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Patent Law

Patents give individuals and businesses the exclusive rights to make, use, and sell specific types of inventions, such as software programs, mechanical devices, manufacturing processes, chemical formulas, and electrical equipment. Federal law grants these exclusive rights in exchange for full public disclosure of an original work or invention. The inventor or author receives complete legal protection for his or her intellectual efforts, while the public obtains valuable information that can be used to make life easier, healthier, or more pleasant. For example, U.S. Patent No. 5,625,781 gives International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) the exclusive rights over a Web browsing tool that allows users to navigate through a list of hypertext links that are displayed on a Web site and then return to the list without having to backtrack through the intermediate links. Were another company to make the same technology available for its own Web-browsing product, IBM would have a viable claim for patent infringement.

Inside Patent Law