What is a Patent?

Patent

What does patent mean?

The protection for intellectual property, granting the exclusive right to someone to use, sell, or manufacture an invention for a certain period of time. A patent is a term that has been used for many centuries, and applies to both physical inventions as well as intellectual property.

A patent does not give the right to produce and sell a product; rather it gives the right to ban others from producing an item or a piece of your own intellectual property for their own monetary gain. The time span for a patent varies but is usually twenty years from the time of the invention of the item or property.

Patents are granted by governments to inventors as a way to keep others from using, making or selling the invention for a given period of time. It’s a way to protect the intellectual rights and properties of inventors, and ensure that others aren’t compensated for their work and efforts.

Once a patent is issued on an invention it makes that invention the sole property of the inventor, and like any other form of property it can be leased, hired out, and even sold outright. Patents are territorial in nature, so U.K. patents only give holders rights in the U.K., while U.S. patents give holders rights in the U.S. Patent law can differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The following information about patents is applicable to U.K. law:

In order to secure a patent, your invention must:

  • Be something completely new that has never been made publically available anywhere in the world prior to the patent application date.
  • Include something novel and unique that would not be obvious to someone with in-depth knowledge of the field in which the invention is created.
  • Have some application for industry. It must be able to be used in some form in an industry, whether than means it is a complete device, a new material, or a process that improves some industrial operational method.

An invention cannot receive a patent if it is:

  • A scientific theory or mathematical method;
  • A computer program or method of presenting information;
  • An artistic creation such as a literary work, drama, or visual art;
  • A discovery of some natural phenomena;
  • A scheme for doing business, playing a game, or performing some other mental act.

In addition to the above determining factors, it is also not possible to receive a patent for a new medical procedure, therapy or diagnosis method, nor is it possible to patent a new type of plant.

The rights of Inventors under Patents

A patent is a legal means to stop others from using your inventions. Or it allows you to license the invention for use by others. Because it is a legal construct it also allows for legal action against those who might use the invention without your permission, including claiming damages. A patent must be obtained prior to putting the invention to work, once it is part of the public realm it is not possible to patent it. Perhaps most importantly, the Intellectual Property Office does not provide any insurance against others using your invention, it is the inventor or owners responsibility to ensure the patented invention is not being infringed on.

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