Patents Explained

What is a Patent?

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

This right was established over 200 years ago in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

General Information Concerning Patents

There are three types of patents:

  • Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  • Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
  • Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Have a Patentable Idea?

If you believe you have invented something you need to disclose this using the RIT Invention Disclosure form. It will be used to start the patenting decision process, and for required notifications of arising inventions to sponsors and funding agencies.

A signed hard copy of the Invention Disclosure is to be submitted to the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office, (2469 University Services Center) for all inventions created at RIT. An electronic copy in MS Word Format should also be submitted to