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A medical patent is a legal protection against market competition that a government grants to the inventor of a unique medical item or process.

Understanding a Medical Patent

A medical patent, like other types of patents, prevents competitors from making, using, or selling the patented item or process for a limited time. In the United States, the three categories of patents are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Utility patents apply to machines, processes, and manufactured objects as well as to useful improvements on these items. Design patterns protect ornamentation. A 1980 Supreme Court ruling made it possible to patent living, man-made organisms, a key to the success of biotechnology firms. The United States Patent and Trademark Office grants patents in the United States, and these patents are valid for 20 years.