Patent rights are a specific set of rights given to an inventor to credit him as the creator and originator of a specific invention. The inventor receives the rights from the national government. In the US, patent documents are signed by the Commissioner of Patents and Trademark and bear the seal of Patent and Trademark Office for authenticity. Once the rights are given, the inventor can claim to “exclude others from making, using, offering for sale or selling the invention.”
To get patent rights, an inventor must prove first that his invention has not yet been invented or patented. It should also be useful and have industrial applicability. The invention should also possess non-obviousness, meaning an average person should not immediately know what it should be used for. These four characteristics—novelty, usefulness, industrial applicability, and non-obviousness—should all be proven in an invention before it is patented. A lack of one characteristic might result in not having the invention patented. The inventor should also write a patent disclosure, a document that extensively describes the invention, both in words and in illustrations.
An inventor may gain the right to forbid any individual or company to use his invention without permission, but it does not ultimately give him the right to freely use the invention himself. The usage of the inventions is still enclosed within any laws applicable to it. For example, an inventor cannot drive around his newly-invented car without a license. Patent rights are usually limited within the country that grants the rights. This means that an inventor should also undergo patent application in other countries if he wants more protection for his invention.
Granting of patent rights can also have an expiration. In the US and in some European countries, the term of the patent can last for 20 years, beginning from the date of application. During this period, the inventor should regularly pay the required maintenance fees. Patents can be renewed if the inventor wants. Otherwise, he can sell the rights, transfer them to another person, or just abandon them.
Patent rights are similar to, but distinct from, other rights such as copyright rights, trademark rights, and design rights. While patent rights are granted for inventor and inventions, copyrights are granted to authors and published works. Trademark rights are given for exclusive usage of a symbol, while design rights protect the design of a product that has artistic value.