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A patent is commonly known as ownership of your invention. Legally, it's a property right in that invention, granted by the U.S. patent and trademark office. The patent grant excludes others from making, using, or selling the invention in the United States. Patent protection lasts for up to 20 years, but this period depends on the patent issued. The patent application and granting process can take a long time, and in some cases it may take years. Once you have a protective patent, you may license it to others to use for a fee. If others attempt to copy your patented invention, you can use legal force to stop them and possibly sue them for damages. For more information regarding patents, contact a patent attorney today.