Peek inside each of the chapters below

Chapter 5: How Does the Patent System Work?

“The Congress shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Our patent system has its roots in the US Constitution. The reason we even have a patent system is that the framers of the Constitution thought it wise to provide legal protection for innovations.

In particular, Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution mandates that Congress make laws to promote progress by protecting the works of “Authors and Inventors” for a limited time.

This is useful to know because it shows that, while protection is fundamental to our patent system, it is also fundamental that the protection will be provided only for a limited time, which is why patents expire and cannot be renewed. It also shows that the intention was to promote progress, which requires that the works be openly shared, and that they will eventually enter the public domain.

As this Constitutional framework relates to patents in particular, the “bargain” that is at the core of the patent system is that you, the inventor, fully describe your invention, so that others can understand what you’ve created and, when the patent expires, can freely practice it and build upon it (to promote progress). In return, the government will grant you protection for a specified period of time…

Here’s What You’ll Learn In This Chapter:

  • Our Patent Laws Come from Congress
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • Federal Courts
  • The Process for Obtaining a Patent at the United States Patent Office

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© Richard Goldstein 2016

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