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A patent is a legal protection granted by a government to inventors or applicants, providing them with exclusive rights over their inventions for a specific period of time. It is a form of intellectual property right that encourages innovation by granting inventors the ability to profit from their inventions and prevent others from using, making, selling, or importing their patented inventions without permission. Here are some key points about patents:

1. Purpose: Patents serve as a reward for inventors by granting them exclusive rights to their inventions. This encourages innovation and investment in research and development.

2. Types of Patents: There are different types of patents, including utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Utility patents are the most common and cover new and useful processes, machines, compositions of matter, or improvements thereof. Design patents protect the unique ornamental design of a functional item, and plant patents protect new varieties of plants that are asexually reproduced.

3. Patentable Subject Matter: To be granted a patent, an invention must meet certain criteria. It should be novel (new), non-obvious (not an obvious improvement over existing knowledge), and have utility (useful and functional). Laws regarding patentable subject matter may vary across countries.

4. Patent Application: In order to obtain a patent, inventors must file a patent application with the relevant patent office. The application typically includes a detailed description of the invention, claims defining the scope of the invention, and any necessary drawings or diagrams.

5. Examination Process: After filing, the patent office examines the application to determine if the invention meets the patentability criteria. The examination may involve searching prior art (existing knowledge) to ensure the invention is new and non-obvious.

6. Granting of Patent: If the patent office determines that the invention is eligible for a patent, a patent is granted, providing the inventor with exclusive rights over the invention for a specified period, typically 20 years from the filing date.

7. Enforcement: Patent owners have the right to enforce their patents against others who infringe upon their exclusive rights. This may involve legal actions to stop the infringement and seek damages.

8. Patent Cooperation: International patent cooperation frameworks, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), facilitate the filing and examination of patent applications across multiple countries, streamlining the process for inventors seeking protection in multiple jurisdictions.

Patents play a crucial role in fostering innovation and economic growth by providing inventors with incentives to develop new technologies and products. They protect the investments and efforts of inventors, allowing them to commercialize their inventions and reap the benefits. However, patent rights are limited in duration and are subject to certain legal requirements and limitations to balance the interests of inventors and the public.

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