If you work in chemistry, there's a chance you may develop a new chemical or mixture that you need to further develop and protect. Even if you don't work with the specifics of medications or chemical mixtures, you know the importance of protecting your new creation. If you don't, others may use the same formula and, essentially, steal your hard work and any profits that could have come from it.
Patents give you a legal right to prevent others from using or selling your chemical formula, in this case. You'll have to show that it's a unique formula and that it can be used by the industry. Once you can do that and obtain the patent, the patent generally shares publicly anything you detailed about your invention.
Patents don't last forever. They usually last 20 years from the time they are granted. This is good for some people and not as good for the inventors. Why? After 20 years, others may access and use your formula to create copycat versions of your invention. After 20 years, consumers will likely see an uptick in similar products.
Some patents, like those for drugs, last only 20 years, which is difficult when it takes eight years or longer just to get a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Still, protecting your chemical formula is a vital step so that others don't take it before you have a chance to use it in your own products. Your attorney can help you get the patent you need to protect your interests moving forward.