A patent is a grant by the government which provides a monopoly in exchange for the disclosure of an invention, but it is more than that, as we will see in this and subsequent posts.  A patent grants the owner the right to prevent others from using, selling, making, or importing the invention which reads on the claims of a patent.  The patent does not actually allow its owner to do anything.  It is possible that one could have a patent on his invention, yet to violate someone else’s patent.

This monopoly is defined in the claims of the patent.  Such claims are sometimes described as similar to the metes and bounds description in a real property deed in that they specifically outline the property in question.  For example, a real property deed may include compass directions and distances (e.g. from a point 100 yards south by southwest of a point 150 yards from the base of an oak tree and 300 yards from the intersection of the Schroon and Hudson Rivers).  Similarly, the claims of a patent specifically recite what the metes and bounds of the patent grant are.

So a patent grants the right to exclude others from doing anything that falls within the claims of a patent.  This is advantageous, for example, when a patent owner can exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing a desirable product that the patent owner produces thereby making the patent owner the only source for this product.  Similarly, the patent owner can prevent others from performing the steps of a patented method, such as a manufacturing process.  But what if the patent owner doesn't own a factory to allow him to perform the steps or sell the products?  That is where licensing the rights to practice the invention defined by the claims of the patent will come in  . . . and that will be another story . .