Patent law is an important but often confusing process for those who are looking to secure the rights of an idea or product. It is important for all inventors to completely understand patent law and the process that helps them to achieve that patent. What a Patent Does A patent helps to keep your idea safe, giving you the rights to the concept that you have developed. A successful patent will prevent others from marketing or producing that product. The patent also prevents companies from importing goods into the country that are identical to that patent. Reach of the Patent Patents provided in the United States are only enforced in the United States, the United States Territories and United States possessions. People or companies in other countries can use an idea unless it is patented in that specific country. It is also important for inventors to understand that patents in the United States only last for 20 years. During those 20 years, the owner of the patent must be the one to enforce their rights; the government will not seek out and submit lawsuits against those who infringe on patents unless the patent owner raises the issue. Types of Patents that Fall Under Patent Law There are three main types of patents that can be filed under patent law: utility, design and plant patents. Utility patents are the most common form of patent, helping to provide rights to those who have invented a “useful” machine, product or process. Design patents help to protect more abstract design details or ideas. This helps to protect those who have come up with characters or book/CD/product designs. Plant patents help to protect the rights of those who have come up with a new variety or hybrid of a plant. Patent Application Process The application is the complex process that must be completed correctly in order to secure the patent. A provisional patent is a simple form that provides a description of the products, processes and ideas themselves. Non-provisional patents give a more detailed description of the utility to be patented, including photographic or drawn evidence. This patent must be filled within one year of the provisional patent. Those who are serious about understanding and filling a patent should work with a legal professional. This will help to ensure that the patent is filed in the correct, legal manner. Provisional Patent Help?