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A patent is an official document securing to an inventor for a term of years the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants, on behalf of the Federal government, utility patents, design patents and plant patents. No other agency or jurisdiction can grant patents in the United States.
A patent is similar to a real estate title in two ways. First, it confers ownership of the invention. Second, it describes the invention in very precise terms. These terms are referred to as "claims".