Patents in general are usually pretty boring. But recently, they've been anything but dull.
On Jan. 6, Toyota announced that it would give away thousands of patents for its fuel-cell cars in an effort to encourage other automakers to join in building the new industry. And in the past few years, President Barack Obama has issued rules to discourage patent "trolls," companies that acquire patents and then sue others for supposedly violating them.
A patent is an invention, process, device or method that is deemed useful and new. The patent protection stops others from copying the products in the United States. A copyright is an original expression, idea, book, film, photo or other work. Slogans, phrases and trade names are protected by trademarks. Now that we know the ground rules, here are 10 things you probably didn't know about patents.