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Patents protect intellectual property related to inventions or processes, and are distinct from other types of intellectual property protections like copyrights or trademarks. A patent may be granted to an inventor of things like a new drug formula, a new manufacturing method, or a new piece of technology. Once granted, a patent allows the owner to maintain sole control over who can produce the protected item or who may utilize a protected process. Like other forms of intellectual property protections, patent law must balance the rights of a patent owner with those of the public. Because of this need, patents are restricted to ensure free speech and the open exchange of information. To learn more about the rights and limitations imposed by patent law, visit the links in this section.