Definition of patent in US English:



  • 1A government authority or license conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention.

    ‘he took out a patent for an improved steam hammer’
    Compare with letters patent
    • ‘Multinational pharmaceutical companies hold patents on drugs that can bring immense relief to AIDS sufferers.’
    • ‘All countries have to offer protection on drugs for which patents were filed after 1995.’
    • ‘The technology has been patented in South Africa, with international patents pending.’
    • ‘They don't care much about licensing, software patents or threatening legislation.’
    • ‘Defenders of business method patents say they encourage innovation.’
    • ‘Obviously, lower standards for granting patents induce more applications, which generates more fees.’
    • ‘A design patent was filed and issued in 1986.’
    • ‘Hence, the USA far exceeds the EU in the number of biotechnology patents.’
    • ‘The specific applications of the invention are known as claims and are crucial to determining patent infringement.’
    • ‘Design patents cover the non-functional features of useful objects.’
    • ‘He didn't win, but he received a patent for his invention in 1870.’
    • ‘The present proceedings were initiated by the claimant, whose claim alleges that Process A infringes the patent in suit.’
    • ‘Last year, the country was granted 146 U.S. patents for various technologies and products.’
    • ‘Prior to the Civil War, free Blacks could legally obtain patents on their inventions.’
    • ‘The first is to identify the inventive concept embodied in the patent in suit.’
    • ‘One problem is that there is apparently no penalty for filing a bogus patent.’
    • ‘The pressure for the FDA to act will only intensify as biotech patents expire.’
    • ‘They are granting patents, but they are lamely trying to deny that these are food additives.’
    • ‘Since it was developed over 20 years ago, all the original patents have run out.’
    • ‘The number of issued software patents grew exponentially in the U.S. beginning in the early 1980s.’
    copyright, licence, legal protection, right, performing right, permit, privilege, charter, franchise, registered trademark
    View synonyms
  • 2Patent leather.

    ‘designs in a wide range of textures featuring super-chic patent, soft suede, or sophisticated nappa’
    as modifier ‘he wore black trousers and black patent shoes’


  • 1Easily recognizable; obvious.

    ‘she was smiling with patent insincerity’
    • ‘The continued blind oversight of human rights abuses in conjunction with the blatant abuse of democracy is patent, and is incomprehensible.’
    • ‘I'm sorry, but this focus on ‘belief’ is patent nonsense.’
    • ‘What seems to plague both of these films and so many like them is their patent insincerity.’
    • ‘What is a patent truism to one side is an obvious falsehood to the other.’
    • ‘Nice advertising slogan, but it's patent nonsense.’
    obvious, clear, plain, evident, apparent, manifest, self-evident
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  • 2Medicine
    (of a vessel, duct, or aperture) open and unobstructed; failing to close.

    • ‘Gamete intrafallopian transfer can be used only in women who have at least one patent fallopian tube.’
    • ‘Focal pressure was applied to temporarily occlude vessels that appeared to be patent.’
    • ‘The pancreatic duct and main branches were patent and grossly unremarkable.’
    • ‘The woman must have at least one normal patent fallopian tube for successful interuterine insemination.’
    • ‘The renal artery, vein, and attached segment of ureter were patent and showed no evidence of tumor involvement.’
    1. 2.1 (of a parasitic infection) showing detectable parasites in the tissues or feces.
  • 3attributive Made and marketed under a patent; proprietary.

    ‘patent milk powder’
    • ‘It benefits from a tax-free patent income scheme which allows it to retain earnings.’
    proprietary, patented, licensed, protected, branded, brand-name, own-brand, own-label, designer-label
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[with object]
  • Obtain a patent for (an invention)

    ‘an invention is not your own until it is patented’
    • ‘I find it so funny that some company patented a step.’
    • ‘Even better, they've now patented the idea, so don't go around trying to copy it yourself.’
    • ‘He mysteriously disappeared during a train journey two years later, before he patented his invention.’
    • ‘Masterful with machinery, he patented several mechanical inventions which had varying degrees of viability.’
    • ‘He led the research and development of a unique and now patented coffee roasting process.’
    • ‘For some, this wins time to persuade patients to switch to a newer, patented product.’
    • ‘And if companies patent parts of the genome, they perhaps get exclusivity.’
    • ‘Even drugs already on the market can face challenges based on newly patented genes.’
    • ‘His invention was patented on December 10, 1889, and the Parker pen was born.’
    • ‘The scientists of previous generations who refused to patent their breakthrough discoveries were neither naive nor saintly.’
    • ‘The U.S. Department of Energy, which sponsored their work, has now patented the technology.’
    • ‘The doctors have patented their invention and say it could soon be available to all air passengers.’
    • ‘The contribution to earnings from the new patented product is likely to be evident in the medium-term.’
    • ‘Sometimes, a company can protect its differentiation strategy by patenting its products.’
    • ‘There can be tax advantages in patenting a product - income from a patent, can, in some cases, be tax-free.’
    • ‘The company has patented various plant genes, which can only by used after signing a contract.’
    • ‘Ben has patented his invention and a Sheffield company has already shown interest in developing the device.’
    • ‘In this country and in Europe you can go quite a long way towards patenting a medical treatment.’
    • ‘After the Air Ministry turned him down he patented his idea himself in 1932.’
    • ‘The cellular parts essential for genetic engineering are already patented.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin patent- ‘lying open’, from the verb patere. The noun sense is from letters patent.