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Patents

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A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention – a product or process that provides a new way of doing something, or that offers a new technical solution to a problem.

A patent provides patent owners with protection for their inventions. Protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years.

Patents provide incentives to individuals by recognizing their creativity and offering the possibility of material reward for their marketable inventions. These incentives encourage innovation, which in turn enhances the quality of human life.

The procedure for granting patents, the requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims defining the invention which must be new, non-obvious, and useful or industrially applicable. In many countries, certain subject areas are excluded from patents, such as business methods, treatment of the human body and mental acts. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission. It is just a right to prevent others’ use. A patent does not give the proprietor of the patent the right to use the patented invention, should it fall within the scope of an earlier patent.

In fact, a patent is not an exclusive right to anything at all, but rather the right to exclude others from

  • making

  • copying

  • using

  • selling (or offering to sell) or

  • importing

Patents generally cover technological advances – new products and processes.

An invention must, in general, fulfill the following conditions to be protected by a patent;

  • It must be of practical use;

  • It must show an element of “novelty”, meaning some new characteristic that is not part of the body of existing knowledge in its particular technical field.

In many countries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, plant or animal varieties, discoveries of natural substances, commercial methods or methods of medical treatment (as opposed to medical products) are not generally patentable.