If you don't patent your invention, the risk is that somebody else could go out and independently arrive at the invention and patent it. This would exclude you from practicing your own invention.
There are several different parts of a patent document including a title page, abstract, background and claims.
In order to get a patent, you actually do have to give something up. You have to teach the public how to make and use your invention.
If you meet the standard for getting a patent, then what you get is a right to exclude others from practicing what you've claimed for a period of 20 years from the filing date of your patent application.
A patent is the right to exclude others from practicing the invention. What it's not is a right to practice your own invention.
A patent portfolio is a collection of patents that you could define around a particular product or a particular core technology.
It's important to know that in order to file a patent application, you have to name who the inventors are.
The timeline for acquiring a patent can vary quite widely depending on the type of technology and what kind of program by which the application is files.
Under the patent law there are certain categories of inventions that are acceptable, and those include articles of manufacture, compositions of matter, and processes. But that covers a lot of different types of inventions.
Prior art is the entire body of knowledge that's known to mankind at the time that you made your invention.