Legally speaking, a patent is the granting by a sovereign state to an inventor, or an inventor’s assignee, of the exclusive right to an invention. In exchange for this grant of an exclusive right to an invention, the sovereign state receives detailed information about the invention. The inventor, or his assignee, has exclusive right to the invention for a set period of time. In the United States, the sovereign authority that issues patents is the federal government, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

An invention has a specific definition for patenting purposes. An invention is defined as a solution to a specific technological problem and is in the form of a product or process. A patent legally is classified as a type of intellectual property. It is intellectual property like a copyright or trademark. However, the patenting process is more complicated.

The patenting process in the United States involves the preparation of an application, and supporting materials, and submitting the materials to the U.S. Patent Office. The preparation of a patent application, and the associated supportive materials, can prove to be a complicated task. Therefore, an inventor, or an assignee, typically is best serve by seeking professional assistance. This includes retaining the services of a patent attorney.

Patent enforcement generally is undertaken via a civil lawsuit. Pursuing a patent enforcement legal action is also a complicated matter. Therefore, engaging the professional services of a skilled, experienced patent lawyer typically is an advisable course when patent rights must be protected from infringement.