What is a patent?


What is a patent?

In: Economics

The simplest explanation is that it is an ownership to an idea. The idea may come in the form of a product.

A patent is a license from the Government allowing the holder to prevent all others from producing a particular means of doing something. Holders can sue people, collect damages from them, and obtain legal restraint to prevent them from using the patented means.

Thus you can patent a specific sewing machine design, but not patent the idea that it would be cool if a machine could sew cloth.


It is a government granted monopoly of an invention for a limited time in exchange for sharing the invention. Someone else explained what the monopoly means, but the second part is important as well. To obtain a patent, the owner must publicly disclose and explain it. This means that after the patent expires, the public has access to that new knowledge. If the patent system didn’t exist, people/companies would keep inventions a secret, which could be indefinite. Patents make it easier for a company to protect their intellectual property, but only for a limited time.