Patent protection guards innovation from imitation

What is a patent?

A patent is a commercial asset which gives its owner the right to stop others ‘exploiting’ an ‘invention’ for a limited term. ‘Exploiting’ includes making, using, selling and importing, amongst other things. The invention could be a product and/or a process.

More on patent rights and patent infringement.

Why patent?

Patents can be used to preserve profit margin by limiting competition and/or to generate new income streams by licensing. They can be valuable marketing tools and assist in supporting an innovative business culture. Patents are commercial assets which can be bought and sold like other commercial assets.

If you don’t have effective patent protection, your competitors may be well within their rights to copy your new products and processes.

Types of patents

Standard patents last for up to 20 years. To qualify, the technology must be ‘new’ and have an ‘inventive step’.

Innovation patents last for up to 8 years. To qualify, the technology must be ‘new’ and have an ‘innovative step’.

What is a patent specification?

A patent specification is the main document supporting a patent or patent application. Typically the patent specification includes text and figures and is divided into two sections: the ‘description’ and the ‘claims’.

The description must describe the invention in sufficient detail so that, after the patent has expired, a non-inventive worker in the field can make and use the invention without undue burden.

The claims are critical because they define the coverage of the patent or patent application. In much the same way as a mining claim defines an area of land in which there are special rights, a patent claim defines an area of technology in which there are special rights.

More on patent claims and patent coverage.

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