What is a Patent?

Many people have never heard of patents, know very little about them, or think they are only for adult inventors.  We strongly recommend learning the basics about how to patent your idea in your home country so that you can protect your idea.

A patent is a right, granted by a particular country, giving a person or entity exclusive control over a product or process.  In other words, whoever owns the patent on an invention makes the decisions about how that invention may be used in a country (or countries) where the idea is patented.

Each country sets its own rules about what type of invention can or cannot be patented, but usually it must be a product or process that is new (different enough from everything else out there), useful (it has some practical use, no matter how strange or silly it may seem), and non-obvious (an average person working in the field would not naturally think of it).  During the time when a patent is valid, no one else may make or sell the invention in that country (or countries) without the patent-holder’s permission.

Applying for a patent will help to protect your team’s idea.  Having a patent does not mean that your team cannot sell, share, or give away your idea later – it just means that your team has the right to make that decision.

Example of United States patent









Special Thanks

FIRST LEGO League wishes to thank Maureen Toohey, Esq. for providing legal guidance regarding patent law for this website.

Maureen was appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) for the three year term from 2008-2011. She is the founding member of the Toohey Law Group LLC. where she counsels clients regarding the strategic protection and transfer of intellectual property rights, supervises the prosecution of intellectual property portfolios, and litigates intellectual property disputes. The legal information provided here is for informational purposes only. Teams should seek their own legal counsel regarding protection of individual ideas submitted to this competition as stated in the FAQs