The Letters patent reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Letters patent

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Letters Patent by Queen Victoria creating office of Governor-General of AustraliaEnlarge

Letters Patent by Queen Victoria creating office of Governor-General of Australia

Letters patent are a type of legal document which is an open letter issued by a monarch or government granting a right, monopoly, title, or status to someone or some entity such as a corporation. The opposite of letters patent is letters close which are personal in nature and sealed so that only the recipient can read the contents of the letter. Letters patent often start with a salutation such as: "To all to who these presents shall come Greeting" or To all to whom these Presents shall come or whom the same may in anyway concern, GREETING:". Letters patent can be used for the granting of coats of arms, for the creation of corporations, by a monarch to create an office. The term "patent" is also used to refer to a document that grants a patent for scientific invention.

In the United States, the forgery of letters patent granted by the President of the United States is a crime subject to fine and/or imprisonment up to ten years (18 U.S.C 497).

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