I work as a patent writer. One day I was reading an article about patents and learned that the word patent came from the Latin word, patere which means to lay open.
“The word patent originates from the Latinpatere, which means “to lay open” (i.e., to make available for public inspection), and more directly as a shortened version of the term letters patent, which originally denoted a royal decree granting exclusive rights to a person.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patents
“Letters patent (Latin: litterae patentes) are a type of legal instrument in the form of an open letter issued by a monarch or government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or to some entity such as a corporation. The opposite of letters patent (Latin: litterae patentes) is letters close (Latin: litterae clausae), which are personal in nature and sealed so that only the recipient can read their contents. Due to the Latin idiom involved, a single document is not a “letter patent” but still “letters patent.”” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_patent
Upon further research, I learned there are more Latin relationships.
“patefacio : to disclose, expose, open, make open.
pateo : to be revealed, to stand open, to be clear, plain.”
“Latinpatens, “open, lying open”” – http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/patent
“Origin: 1250–1300; (adj.) ME < L patent- (s. of patēns) open, orig. prp. of patēre to stand wide open; (n.) ME, short for letters patent, trans. of ML litterae patentēs open letters”- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/patent
These words share a common meaning. They all refer to open or openess. In fact, the word patio is related.
“Spanishpatio, either from Provençalpatu or pati, from Latinpactum (“‘pact, agreement’”) or from Latinpatere (“‘to lie open’”).”
This makes sense since in a patent you publicly disclose how your invention works. In return, you have a 20 year monopoly, 20 years of exclusivity, where only you can manufacture or exclude others from making your invention.