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University of Maine School of Law
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University of Maine School of Law

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Patent law in the United States extends to virtually "anything under the sun that is made by man." Patents create a form of property right in new, unobvious, and useful inventions, including machines, devices, chemical compositions, and manufacturing processes. Software can also be protected by patent law. Indeed, the 1990s saw an explosion in the number of software patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

In this section, you can find information about what patents are, what rights they confer on the patent owner, the requirements for obtaining a patent, the activities that may constitute patent infringement, and possible defenses to a patent infringement claim. This section also contains specific information about patents on computer technologies and so-called "business method" patents. Note that computer software may be protected by copyright as well as patent law.

The E-Commerce Patents subtopic focuses on patents targeting "e-commerce," including business methods and Internet display and delivery.

For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions about Patent.

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