A patent is a grant of a property right to an inventor for an invention that is new, inventive, and useful or industrially applicable. Patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A patent gives the inventor an exclusive right to the invention for a specific period of time. Because a patent grants an inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention, only a licensing agreement between the patent owner and another person or company will allow the use or sale of the invention by someone other than the patent holder.
Companies that do a great deal of research and development of new products and technologies that become patented may enter into cross-licensing agreements, whereby two parties share patents without paying the normally required licensing fee.