A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem. 

Patent protection forms the cornerstone of most technology and manufacturing companies' intellectual property programs. If the realities of your business make it necessary to disclose confidential information to a fairly broad group of employees or customers, misappropriation or loss of the secret nature of the information is a constant risk. In addition, the commercial value of many inventions comes from incorporating them into a product that is mass produced, which often fully discloses an invention or discovery to members of the public, who may then copy or reverse engineer the product to develop their own competitive product.

Under these circumstances, patent protection is the protection of choice because it gives the patent holder the right to prevent (in legal terms "exclude") others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing the invention covered by the patent. A patent holder can derive commercial value either from being the only source of the patented item or by receiving royalties from licensing the patented invention to others, or by engaging in a combination of both.