A patent is an exclusive right, meaning it allows the patent holder to use the invention for professional or commercial purposes, exclusively for a specified period (maximum 20 years) in the country in which it was granted. The Patent Office decides whether to grant (or refuse to grant) a patent upon examining the subject matter of the application. On the other hand, an invention is an innovative technological solution (device, method, application, etc.) which is non-obvious and was previously unknown. An invention should not be confused with a patent. An invention may be patented or not. It depends primarily on whether:
- it meets the legal requirements (mostly pertaining to novelty, that it involves an inventive step, and has industrial applicability),
- patenting the invention serves the needs of the patent holder. Under some circumstances, it might be more advisable to keep the solution secret as know-how.
In essence, the patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. This means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported, or sold by others without the patent owner’s consent. It’s important to note that patents are territorial rights, and their exclusive rights are generally applicable only in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted, following the laws of that specific jurisdiction. The protection granted by a patent typically lasts for a limited period, generally maximum 20 years from the filing date of the patent application.
Difference between patentable and non patentable inventions
Patentable inventions are those that fall into specific categories, including processes, machines, manufactures, compositions of matter, and improvements, as long as they meet criteria like originality, enablement, utility, and statutory subject matter. These inventions can be granted patents, which provide exclusive rights to the inventor for a certain period.
Non-patentable inventions include discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, nonfunctioning products, mental task methods, informative presentations, and certain medical/veterinary procedures. Perpetual motion machines, unethical/immoral inventions, and non-technical software/business methods also fall into the non-patentable category. Patents are essential for protecting intellectual property, preventing others from replicating and selling the invention without consent, and encouraging innovation.