How to make sure you are the only one using your inventive products? Apply for patent!
Once an inventor is granted a patent right on his invention, he is the only one who can make, import, sell and use the patented product. The protection period granted to a patent is usually 20 years from date of filing subject to renewal stipulated by relevant country.
Similar to other IP rights, an inventor is facing the risk of, loss of ownership, loss of statutory rights to sue and other unforeseeable commercial risks if the invention is not protected at the very first stage.
Patent Application Flow Chart
An invention is patentable if it is:-
(ii) Involves an inventive step
(iii) Industrially applicable
New (also known as Novel)
The first requirement to be patentable is the invention must be new. Most of the countries require the invention to be new globally. An invention is considered novel if it is not described by prior art. In this context, prior art means everything made available to public within the same technical filed prior to the filing of the patent application.
Involves An Inventive Step
An invention is considered as involving an inventive step if, having regard to the prior art, such inventive step would not have been obvious to person with knowledge and experience in the technological field of the invention.
In most circumstances, an invention which is easily made or made by merely combining known and used inventions may not match the requirement of inventive step.
An invention shall be considered industrially applicable if it can be produced and manufactured according to its patent specification.
TERRITORIAL BASED PROTECTION
Exclusive use of a patent is on territorial basis granted by the designated jurisdiction. Currently there is no unitary system to register a patent globally. Therefore, SMEs have to register their patent in the designated country individually. Fortunately, there are regional protection available in Europe where single application covers all member states of European Patent Convention.
It must be noted that an applicant should proceed to file patent application in foreign countries within one year from the first filing date. Failure to do so will risk the foreign patent application to fail due to lack of novelty.
WHAT SHOULD I PREPARE FOR PATENT APPLICATION?
Since a patent is an exclusive right granted by a country in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An applicant must be prepared to provide full disclosure about its invention.
As a simple guideline, an applicant should prepare the following information for the purpose of patent application:-
- Technical area which the invention relates to.
- The background and problems that the invention intends to solve.
- The advantage of the invention over the present technologies.
- The components of the invention and how it operates
It is important to note that not all inventions that fulfil the above requirements are entitled to patent protection. Some inventions may fall under the category of Non-Patentable Inventions according to the regulations of relevant jurisdictions. The following are the example of Non-Patentable Inventions:-
- Discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods
- Computer software
- Plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals, other than man-made living micro-organisms, micro-biological processes and the products of such micro-organism processes
- Schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games
Methods for the treatment of human or animal body by surgery or therapy, and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body.
There are hundreds of thousands of patent applications filed every year. SMEs should be pro-active to secure the ownership of their invention before they are taken up by someone else!
Registered Trade Mark, Patent & Industrial Design Agent