PC Mag: "A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Anyone who comes up with a new idea, or an improvement of an existing entity, should have that idea patented. You are, after all, competing with hundreds of thousands of likeminded individuals who just may invent the same thing you have.
Since 1963, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted more than 2.5 million utility (technology) patents in the U.S., which are issued for "the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof." An issued patent generally prohibits others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing. "