General English


  • noun an official document showing that a person has the exclusive right to make and sell an invention

Health Economics

  • (written as Patent)

    A patent for an invention is a territorial intellectual property right granted by an official agency of the government to the inventor, giving the inventor the right for a limited period to stop others from making, using or selling the invention without the permission of the inventor. It is a temporary monopoly. When a patent is granted, the invention becomes the property of the inventor, which - like any other form of property or business asset - can be bought, sold, rented or hired. Patent laws exist in order to reward, and hence encourage, innovation and invention. In health economics, they have been particularly important for the pharmaceutical industry.

    Patent protection is usually for 20 years from the date the patent ap plication was filed. The practical life of most pharmaceutical patents is much shorter than this because it takes many years to bring a product to market, satisfy safety and efficacy regulatory agencies and to negotiate prices. Seven to ten years may be a realistic effective patent life over which a product must recoup its development costs (and those of other 'failed' products). Some countries permit extensions to a patent's term for a further term, usually to compensate patentees for delays in securing approval to market a drug.

    Some countries allow the production, sale, or use of a patented product, without the patent owner's permission, for the purposes of obtaining permission to market the product. Such an exception to patent rights (known as springboarding) is intended to allow generic drugs to enter the market as soon as possible after the patent on the drug expires.

Information & Library Science

  • noun an official right given to the inventor or originator of a product to control its manufacture and sale for a period of time


  • adjective very obvious


  • noun official permission to be the only person to have the right to produce something which you have invented


  • acronymPATENTS

Origin & History of “patent”

Etymologically, patent means simply ‘open’. Its ultimate source is patēns, the present participle of the Latin verb patēre ‘be open’ (a relative of English fathom and petal). It was used particularly in the term letters patent, which denoted an ‘open letter’, particularly an official one which gave some particular authorization, injunction, etc. It soon came to be used as a noun in its own right, signifying such a letter, and by the end of the 16th century it had acquired the meaning ‘exclusive licence granted by such a letter’. this gradually passed into the modern sense ‘official protection granted to an invention’.