What is a patent?
September 26th, 2021
You may have already asked yourself the following question: how are inventions protected? You have probably also heard of a patent, but what is it really? Patents are not only useful to protect an invention, but they are a must. The following blog post will attempt to demystify the concept of a patent.
What is a patent?
A patent is what provides its owner with the exclusive right to manufacture, sale and use an invention, but only in the territory for which the patent has been granted. In other words, by obtaining a patent, you have the right, as an inventor, to prevent others from making, using or monetizing your invention. To obtain a patent, you must agree to fully disclose your invention in understandable terms, sufficiently to allow others to exploit it when the patent expires. The patent also has the function of allowing its holder to disseminate technical information that would otherwise have to be kept secret.
In order to understand the nature of a patent, it can be compared to a property. As such, it can be sold (we use the term assigned) or licensed. Issuing a license means that the patent is still the property of its holder, but that it gives the right to someone else to use its invention. That person can then use the invention, but under the conditions set out in the license agreement.
What can be patented
Patents apply to inventions that meet certain criteria. Indeed, the invention must be new, that is to say that it does not exist elsewhere in the world. It must also be useful, functional and exploitable and it must be inventive, i.e. it must constitute an inventive contribution for people working in the field of your invention.
A patentable invention can be a product (such as a lock), a composition (such as a chemical compound), an apparatus (such as a machine), a process (such as a manufacturing method) or an improvement to any of the above.
A patent does not last forever. It has a limited duration in time. Usually, a patent lasts at least 20 years from the date of filing of the patent application. It will then give its owner the right to prevent others from using his invention. Unfortunately, this is not a guarantee that the invention described in the patent can be used. To illustrate this situation, let’s take the example of someone who files an application to improve an existing invention. He will not be able to exploit it until he obtains a license from the holder of the first patent.
If you believe you have invented something that requires a patent, do not hesitate to contact professionals. They will be able to answer your questions and guide you through the process, which can be complex. Don’t let your inventions slip through your fingers for lack of protection.