Overview of Basic Facts about Patents

Patents provide protection over inventions that satisfy certain criteria, such as utility, novelty and non-obviousness. A patent right allows owners to prevent others from manufacturing, selling and/or using the invention.

However, there are other basic important facts about patents that you should know before we start getting into more detail.

  • The right to exclude is temporary (it typically lasts for 20 years from the date of filing).
  • Patents are granted by the government after you go through a filing process (which we will talk about in more detail).
  • Patents are jurisdictionally limited in that they are granted country by country, so if you do not have a patent in a particular country, your invention may be free for use there.
  • If someone is infringing on your patent, your typical remedy is to go to court.

Frequently Asked QuestionS about patents

Select each question to reveal the answer.

Patents are time-limited because the purpose of the patent system is to promote innovation by granting a temporary “monopoly” over an invention in exchange for having the inventor disclose and share details of the invention with the public.
Not necessarily. In most jurisdictions, the patent (if it meets the necessary criteria) will be issued to the party that is the first to file the patent application. This system is called the “first to file system.” In this system, the patent is not necessarily granted to the person who first came up with the invention. Inventors are encouraged to file their patent applications as quickly as possible to avoid losing their patent right to another party who files for the patent first (even if that party wasn’t the first to conceive of the invention). This is why inventors should be careful about whom they share information about their invention, which could result in someone else filing for the patent first (even though it wasn’t their idea), or the inability to get the patent because prior disclosures to a third party may, under certain conditions, defeat the ability to obtain a patent.
There can be subtle differences in the test for patentability and eligible subject matter in different jurisdictions. Also, there are a host of differences in the filing processes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, including differences regarding who can file for the patent, what information needs to be made available, the filing fees, the grace period and the manner in which the review of the application will proceed. Patent applications have a prescribed format that must be complied with. They require precision in terms of the information to be disclosed and the manner in which this information is to be presented.
Last modified: Friday, 4 September 2020, 10:13 AM