A patent is a grant of governmental authority of a right to exclude others from utilizing an invention except upon agreement with the originator or owner. Allowing an inventor a temporary monopoly encourages investment in technology development by reducing the risk that others will take free advantage.
Christopher T. Hill "Patents" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern World.Ed Peter N. Stearns. Oxford University Press, 2008. Marquette University. 29 December 2009
Identifying and tracking down patents can be a complicated process. A variety of finding tools are available to aid in the process and may also facilitate access to the full text. United States patents are available at no charge from a variety of sources. Patents issued by other countries and governmental agencies may be available free of charge.