What is the difference between a patent and an invention?

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A patent is an exclusive right, meaning it allows the patent holder to use the invention 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:

  1. it meets the legal requirements (mostly pertaining to novelty, that it involves an inventive step, and has industrial applicability),
  2. patenting the invention serves the needs of the patent holder. Under some circumstances, it is more advisable to keep the solution secret as know-how.

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