Patent

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DEFINITION of 'Patent'

A government license that gives the holder exclusive rights to a process, design or new invention for a designated period of time. Applications for patents are usually handled by a government agency. In the U.S. the United States Patent and Trademark Office handles application and documentation.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Patent'

In the United States most patents are valid for 20 years. By granting the right to produce a new product without fear of competition, patents provide incentive for companies or individuals to continue developing innovative new products or services. For example pharmaceutical companies spend large sums on research and development and patents are essential to earning a profit.

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