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Patent > How Do I Qualify for and Obtain Patent Protection? - Pg. 155

A Primer on Intellectual Property 155 Keep in mind that the animating principle behind patents is to award inventors and to spur greater advances by publishing the invention's design so that other parties may see it and benefit from the learning. What is a Patent? A patent is a property right granted by the USPTO that allows the inventor of a process or other invention to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention in the United States. It also prohibits importing the invention into the United States. Once the patent is granted, the USPTO publishes the application so that other parties can see how the invention works. There are two major kinds of patents: design patents, which cover ornamental designs not essential to function like the iMac's CPU box, and utility patents, which protect useful inventions like the computer mouse (though the iMac's original hockey puck mouse would be eligible for a design patent). Utility patents are generally good for 20 years from the application date, design patents for 14 years.