Inventions and ideas contributed by people through time help in the advancement of our society today. Due to legal ownership issues amongst these inventions, people who develop a unique idea must go through steps to ensure and protect the legitimacy and originality of their finding. Someone who develops a unique idea or invention must get a patent to stake his or her claim. A patent is a legal action that grants an inventor sole rights to their invention in return for making the invention or idea known to the public. This, in turn, gives the inventor control over how the invention is distributed. It also gives the inventor protection against others who would try to reproduce the invention as their own. Consequently, a patent can ensure an inventor is entitled to monetary compensation if someone else wishes to reproduce or distribute the invention. Patents do have a set time limit, and after that time has expired, the invention is open to the public.

Investors apply for one of three forms of patents. A utility patent is the first form. A utility patent is issued to anyone who develops a unique composition, machine, manufacturing process, or a new improvement based on previous inventions. This is the most common form of patent issued today and involves subcategories such as software, chemical, business model, and biological patents. The second type of patent is the design patent, which grants exclusive rights of ownership to visual conceptions that are developed for an article of manufacture. The third patent is a plant patent. This is given to anyone that successfully grows a new type of plant.

Both businesses and individuals can apply for a patent. A patent granted to an inventor keeps others from reproducing the idea. These patents, however, can be used at the owner’s discretion. Some patents are sold to companies or private individuals. Some are simply abandoned. In any event, unless ownership changes, no one else can capitalize off of a patented idea other than the owner of the patent. A patent is often the subject of legal disputes. Patents are usually only enforceable through civil court proceedings. A patent owner can sue another party for profiting off an idea, but must prove so in a civil court. Conversely, numerous lawsuits accuse people of patent infringement. People accused of this must be able to dissect the differences between their inventions and what is protected under the patent. Laws that dictate the distribution of patents are federal laws. There are various differences from country to country. The United States, for example, allows individuals only, not businesses or organizations, patent rights. In addition, the United States also has different laws regarding invention conception compared to other countries. In any event, it is advantageous to seek a patent for new inventions. Rightful owners must claim original inventions properly.