Patents can be given for inventions in any field of technology, from an everyday kitchen utensil to a nanotechnology chip. An invention can be a product – such as a chemical compound, or a process, for example, a process for producing a specific chemical compound. Many products, in fact, contain several inventions. For example, a computer can involve hundreds of inventions operating together. Patented inventions have been present in every aspect of human life, from electric lighting (patents held by Edison and Swan) and plastic (patents held by Baekeland), to ballpoint pens (patents held by Biro) and microprocessors (patents held by Intel, for example).
But why do we need to register these inventions? Why hold a patent? Well, patents provide incentives and protection by granting recognition to the inventors for their creativity and the possibility of material reward for their discoveries. At the same time, the required disclosure of patents and patent applications promotes the mutually-beneficial spread of new knowledge and accelerates innovation activities.
Once knowledge is openly available it can be used simultaneously by an unlimited number of persons. While this is, without a doubt, fair for public information, it causes difficulties for the commercialization of technical knowledge. In the absence of the protection of such knowledge, anyone could easily use this information enclosed in inventions without any recognition about the creativity of the inventor or contribution to the investments made by the inventor. As a consequence, inventors would be discouraged to bring new inventions to the market and keep them secret. A patent system intends to correct such under-provision of innovative activities by providing innovators with limited exclusive rights, therefore giving them the possibility to receive appropriate returns on their innovative activities.
On a general insight, the public disclosure of the technical knowledge in the patent and the exclusive right granted by the patent provide incentives for competitors to search for alternative solutions and to design around the first invention. These incentives and the announcement of knowledge about new inventions encourage further innovation, which assures that the quality of human life and the well-being of society is continuously improved.
The first step in securing a patent is the filing of a patent application:
In these applications, you must describe the title of the invention, as well as indicate its technical field. You must also introduce the background and a description of the invention, in precise language and with sufficient detail that a person with an average comprehension of the field could use or reproduce the invention. Such descriptions are frequently completed by visual materials such as drawings, layouts, or diagrams to better describe the invention, and an abstract or summary of the invention. You must also clearly and concisely define the matter for which patent protection is sought in the “claims” part of the patent application.
The patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. Patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially produced, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner's consent.
Patents are territorial rights. In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted, under the law of that country or region. Brealant files patents in many countries and assists clients in choosing which countries are suitable and cost-effective. Once you release your invention to the world, you can no longer patent it in another country.
The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.