Editorial Comment Concerning The America Invents Act
On March 16, 2013, inventors lost valuable rights that have been a cornerstone of the U.S. patent system for decades and which distinguished the U.S. from other countries. It no longer matters that you were the first to invent - the U.S. now has a "first inventor to file" patent system. Also, if you disclose or commercialize your invention before filing a patent application you may lose your patent rights. Even a "private sale" may result in a loss of patent rights. There are very limited exceptions, and some of the exceptions and their interpretation have not been tested in the courts. The only safe harbor is to file a patent application prior to any type of disclosure or commercialization activity.
Patent protection is generally available for any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof; any new external and ornamental design for an article of manufacture where the design is nonfunctional, is part of, and is not removable from the article; or any asexually-reproduced plant.
A patent gives you the exclusive right to prevent others from making, offering to sell, selling and using the patented invention without your permission.