What is a Patent?
19 February 2014 by Michael Downing
Patents are grants made by national governments and protect new inventions. They give the owner the right to stop others from making or selling their invention. By giving protection to a person or company that invents something new it prevents others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without their permission, for a fixed period of time.
To be granted a patent, certain conditions must be met. The invention must be the right type of invention – some sorts of invention are excluded. It needs to be new, inventive, and useful and the person applying for the patent must have complete ownership. You can apply for a patent for many types of inventions including; a new product, a new and useful industrial or technical process, and some types of computer program, to name a few. In return for these ownership rights, the applicant must make public the complete details of the patented invention.
A patent is a limited property right the government gives inventors in exchange for publicising details of their inventions, which then allows the technical field to advance more quickly. These details should include; a detailed description of the invention and how it works, any useful background information, the nature of any technical problems solved by the invention, and a careful legal/technical definition of exactly what the invention is. Some illustrations are usually helpful, too. Like any other property right, it may be sold, licensed, mortgaged, assigned or transferred, given away, or simply abandoned.
When applying for a patent, separate patent applications should be made separately to the body of each individual country. In the UK the ‘Intellectual Property Office’ grants patents after they have been investigated by the Patent Office and a suitable fee is paid. Each Office has its own procedures, its own deadlines and its own preferred style of drafting. Most countries also require that the patent is "worked." This means that the protected invention is put to commercial use, within a specified period of time.
Detailed knowledge of these procedures and preferences is vital to success which is why most people when applying for a patent get professional advice. There are intellectual property companies like Downing IP who are specialists in ensuring that the invention you wish to patent gets the best possible protection in the countries where you intend to market it.
For confidential advice regarding your patent application you can contact a member of our team on 01494 422626 or fill in our online contact form.