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Last updated: 12/16/08

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Patents for the Holidays

excerpt from a patent for "Santa's reindeer food"

Excerpt from a patent application for "Santa's Reindeer Food."
Patent from Google Patents,
“Santa's Reindeer Food”
accessed 16 Dec 2008.

The Holidays are upon us, and, naturally, when you think of the Holidays, you think of — Patents! All those gifts and tools and stuff can be improved! And that means money! And that means Patents!

A patent is a legal document that protects the intellectual property rights of creators. It gives the creator sole right to control who can make use of the patented device or process. In this sense, patents are a lot like copyrights, but where copyrights protect ideas given tangible (including electronic) form, patents protect devices which must exist physically (although the device could be a molecule or chemical compound as easily as a machine) and industrial processes. Copyrights relate mostly to artistic expression, while patents relate more to industry and science, although there are some areas of overlap. For example, a molecule can be patented, but the article that describes that molecule and the method for synthesizing it would be copyrighted.

Compiled by:
Peter Larsen and Amanda Izenstark
December 2008

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