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Patent protection is the legal protection granted to the owner of a patent over his or her intellectual property and the methods by which he or she can pursue action against someone who infringes upon the patent. This type of protection typically depends on the country in which a person owns a patent, the laws in that country regarding how long a patent is valid, and the ways in which someone can bring action against a company or person who violates his or her patent. In the US, for example, this type of patent protection usually lasts for 20 years after a patent is granted, and allows the owner of a patent to bring a civil suit against someone who violates his or her patent.
A patent is a form of ownership an inventor may be given over a device or object that he or she creates. Much like a trademark or copyright, a patent is a form of intellectual property ownership; patent protection, however, can be more difficult to receive and enforce. Unlike copyrights that are established the moment a person creates an original work of art, a patent must be officially filed for with a nation’s government. Each country has different policies and procedures regarding patents, and an inventor must receive a patent and subsequent patent protection in different countries individually.
Patent protection usually consists of the terms regarding how long a patent is good for and how it can be enforced. In the US, a patent is good for 20 years after the date it is granted to the inventor of an item, though in other countries this time frame can vary. An inventor with a valid patent in the US can pursue civil litigation against someone he or she believes has infringed upon his or her patent. Other than this owner-initiated patent protection, however, the US government does not pursue any type of active patent litigation.
It is the responsibility of someone who owns a patent to be aware of others who may be infringing upon his or her patent. The US Patent and Trademark Office does grant patent protection to the holder of a patent, however, so once the owner brings a case to court, the government can become involved. This usually consists of agents at the Patent Office examining the relevancy of a particular patent and whether someone has infringed upon that patent. If a court does rule that infringement has occurred, the owner of the patent may be awarded financial compensation and ongoing licensing fees by the defendant in such a case.