What is a patent?
A patent is a monopoly for an invention and is granted under the laws of a country the patent is filed in. A patent protects the way the invention works or functions. A granted patent allows the owner of that patent to grant access to, or exclude others from, making, selling, offering for sale or hire the invention protected under the patent.
The exact monopoly the patent covers is contained in the claims at the end of the patent. A patent can last up to 20 years provided renewals fees are paid. In return for the 20 year monopoly, the patent owner must describe in a patent the best method known at the time of filing in such a way that a person skilled in that area of technology can reproduce the invention. At the end of the life of the patent, the public can use and develop the patented technology.
You can read further about patents here.