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A patent is a government grant of a property right to an inventor that gives him or her the right to take legal action, if necessary, against others who, without the consent of the owner, make, use or sell the invention covered by the patent during the time the patent is in force. This right may be sold or licensed to others.

The patent law provides for the granting of patents in three major categories:

Utility Patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or compositions of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. "Process" means a process or method; new industrial or technical processes may be patented. "Manufacture" refers to articles which are made. "Composition of matter" relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds.

Design Patents are granted to any person who has invented a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. The appearance of the article is protected.

Plant Patents are granted to any person who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.

A patent may be obtained by filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For filing fees check out the web site .... Make check or money order payable to the Commissioner of Patent and Trademark at the following address:

U. S. Patent and Trademark Office
Washington, D.C. 20231
Telephone: 1-800-786-9199
Revised: 12/8/99