Patents are granted by the US government to inventors for new, non-obvious and useful inventions and discoveries, and similar standards of patentability are applied around the globe. A patent grants to its owner the right to exclude others from making, using or selling a patented machine or composition of matter, or using a patented method, typically for a period of 20 years from the date of filing a patent application. Patents are anti-capitalist and they do not allow competition. For capitalism to work their must be freedom of information. Patents are good for 20 years from filing date.
Patents are not the only defense, but they are a vital one to innovative startups that must survive in a real world. In business, as in the jungle, respect is given only to those who can protect themselves. Patents are an important source of technological intelligence that companies can use to gain strategic advantage. New software can be used for gathering, analyzing, forecasting, and managing external technology related information, including patent information. Although a preliminary patent search is suggested, before filing a patent attorney will want to do an independent search before proceeding.
Patents are usually rich in references which have to be cited to demonstrate that the particular patent is unique from, or a non-trivial improvement over, the prior art. One patent can lead to 10 or 50 related patents which each lead to even more. Patents are issued by individual governments and are meant to benefit both the inventor and the society at large. Patents provide the inventor with a temporary right to produce and sell their invention without the threat of competition. Patents are typically used as barriers to entry to particular markets and industries by preventing “free riders” from knocking off successful products without significant investment in product development and market development. It normally is the case that a given industry will have a limited number of competitors.