Patents - WHAT is a Patent?

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A patent is a right created by law which permits an inventor to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a certain period of time.
Since most countries of the world have their own patent system, the patent law and regulations, terms and types of patents may vary from one contry to another. Although, there are few international organisations functioning as worldwide or regional Patent Authorities, such as WIPO and EPO, which are governed through diplomatic conventions and treaties signed by their member-countries to facilitate and simplify patenting proceedings when multi-national protection is overseen.

Definitely, the purpose of this information is not to present or analyse the patent law and regulations, terms or types of patents for each inividual country, but to overstress on those common procedural patent issues which will assist you in a better understanding of the patent concept and principles of the rules must be conformed. However, always you must remmember that with each patent application special conditions may apply.

Now, before you may wish to know how to apply for a patent, you should have fixed in the mind what can be patentable and whether what you are looking for it is not already patented.

A simplified answer to what can be patentable is: a new invention. An invention is a creation of the human intellect which is designated to work for a stated purpose.
There are three criteria for patentability of a new invention:

  • utility
  • novelty
  • non-obviousness
Utility means that the invention must be useful.
Novelty means that the invention is new and/or that the author is the first and original inventor.
Non-obviousness means that the invention must not be obvious to a person with ordinary skill in the invention field of applicability.
In relevance of being applicable in a particular field, the new invention must fall into one of the next conventional categories of things that are patentable: processes, machines, manufactures (that is, objects made by humans or machines), compositions of matter, and new uses of any of the above.

In some circumstances, even if a new invention covers all the above requirements, there are lots of other factors which should be considered when an earlier patentability evaluation of a new invention is done (e.g. claims statements, competitiveness, limited control and access to the non-patent literature etc.).

A patent search can help you to:

  • provide a broad review of a technical field or the most recent developments in a particular area of technology
  • view other patents in the same field your invention may be classified
  • evaluate what chances are for your invention to be patented or not
  • improve the presentation of your invention
  • give you, or your attorney, enough information to prepare a successful patent application
  • choose the right marketplace where you should oversee protection for your invention
  • minimise the risk to infridge others rights
  • choose the right type of patent application
  • identify your potential competitors
  • select the most cost-effective route available
  • minimise the risk of spending a lot more money to file a patent application which is not patentable

Inevitably, next question is: WHERE to search for?

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