Readers of the New York City Business and Commercial Law blog may have read last week’s post regarding the patent infringement suit against Apple. While patents are a common concept, the exact legal concept may not be clear. Taking a look at the limitations and processes of patents can be helpful for those beginning (or improving) a business venture.

A patent is issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and grants property rights in an invention to the inventor. Usually, the patent exists for 20 years from the date it was filed, barring certain exceptions. The three types of patents available are utility, design and plant. Utility patents can be granted to those who have discovered or invented a new and useful process, machine and more. Design patents can be granted to those who invent a new, original and ornamental design for an article, and plant patents cover those who discover or create and asexually reproduces a distinctly new variety of plant. It is important to know what exactly a patent grants.

Patents grant the right to exclude others from performing certain actions. Such as making, offering or selling the invention within the country or importing the invention into the country. Processes, machines, manufactured articles or chemical compositions such as mixtures can be patented.

Protecting intellectual property rights is an important step to promoting progress in society. In order to avail these laws and ensure that New York residents are reaping the benefits of existing laws, they may want to consider consulting an experienced professional about the process.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, “What can be patented,” Accessed on Feb. 29, 2016