If you invent something, you may file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A patent grants you the sole right to make or use your invention for twenty years following the date of your application. An invention can be a physical object, a process, or a system.
Patents encourage inventors to disclose new inventions; this contributes to the advancement of ideas and technology. They are intended to incentivize inventors and investors to work on and capitalize revolutionary new innovations by excluding competitors from using the same invention for 20 years (with some exceptions that are under 20 years).
Once you patent your invention, in addition to using it yourself (to make or do whatever you invented), you can also sell or license the patent to others. Patents can also be inherited, mortgaged and taxed.
U.S. patent applications must be filed within a year of the invention being made publicly available, and the process is complex. Susan can help you find a member of the patent bar to file your application and she can lead you through the patent enforcement and litigation process.