We know about physical property and the laws governing them, but there is also a whole new aspect called “intellectual property”. Intellectual property is the ideas and creations of the human mind. Making certain rules and regulations such that the creator benefits from that idea is of paramount importance.
One famous word you’ve probably heard in relation to intellectual property is “patent”.
A patent is an exclusive right granted by a government for an invention .
In general, a patent protects an invention which offers a novel technical solution to a problem.
So, what is the basic information we should know about this?
1. Know the difference between Inventions and Discoveries
Discoveries are phenomena or concepts that have always been there in the surroundings. When you discover something, it means that you’re getting aware of something that already exists. Inventions are a way to recreate the discovery or do something new using the existing phenomena.
They are unique and stem from the thought process of a person or a group of people. Inventions come under intellectual property, discoveries do not. To understand that, the example always taken is of fire.
Fire is a discovery that human beings came across when the thunder hit a few dry trees. But the ability of theirs to make fire by rubbing two stones near dry twigs and blowing on it to create fire; that is, the method by which they ignited the fire is the invention. This concept is very important while filing a patent since a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention can .
2. You can’t patent mental processes
We just read above that the method matters and method is a mental process. But mental processes include many things. You cannot patent art, as paints and resources are available to everyone and art is just a permutation of colors and techniques. Mathematical processes can’t be patented as they have always existed.
Books, schemes, rules of a game, business ethics, computer programs, and software can’t be patented. They are all things that people can do anytime and would just lead to different outputs of the same input. Books are, in the end, many letters combined together; software is just code thrown together. These can’t be patented.
Also, inventions that cause harm to the public and are offensive to public morality can’t be patented. There are certain guidelines that should be followed and certain ethics to be kept in mind while wanting to patent something. You cannot make inventions that can kill people or violate their privacy.
3. Reproducibility is a key factor
One of the most important targets you have to keep to gain a patent is the reproducibility of your product or invention. When filing for the patent, you have to give the whole protocol of how you created it with every single detail. All the reagents, the methods, the materials and other details should be given perfectly so that another person can recreate the exact same thing.
In return, you get the rights, the profits, and the due credit that it is your product. If reproducibility fails, then the patent can be cancelled, not sanctioned or even revoked. If it isn’t reproducible and doesn’t give the exact same product, it isn’t patentable.
4. Novelty is important
Novelty is another important quality of your patent. It means the newness and efficiency of your invention. It shouldn’t be identical to a previously existing one. Your product is either novel or it isn’t, there is no degree of novelty. It’s a direct yes or no.
To determine if your idea is novel, it is important to first check the Prior Art. Prior Art means already existing methods and ideas that are published online which are protected through patents or exist as research papers. Going through online databases is important to check for the novelty of your idea. If this aspect is taken care of, your invention can be patented.
5. Secrecy is of utmost importance
Unlike research and breakthroughs, patents work differently. While research is shared, collected, discussed and collaborated, patents are kept in secrecy until the grant. This is done to retain your idea’s novelty. The novelty of your idea will be destroyed if you talk about it, post about it on social media platforms or present it at conferences or publish its abstracts. Secrecy should be retained to preserve your idea.
After the patent is granted, you can be open about your research, idea and protocols because it would be expected of you to put it out online. Until then secrecy should be maintained. Many ideas and inventions can lose patentability just because the employees or researchers spilled the beans about it to competitors or presented papers about it at conferences making the idea popular.
Thus, this should always be kept in mind. It is good to sometimes consult experts about how to speak or deal with this aspect. There are good invention service companies that can help you understand the intricacies of patenting.
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6. Patenting gives you a lot of advantages
First, you’d know if your product or technology is eligible for a patent. This gives you an upper hand over any legal disputes that arise later. If you’re in the middle of a legal dispute, knowing about the patents can minimize your loss. A patent management strategy is very important for the survival of your product and the development of the same.
Patents are important to generate revenue, get partnerships, and business acquisitions. Since it is an inventive step, it also contributes to research and solving some problems in the world.
7. Properties of Patents
A patent is normally valid for 20 years from the date it is filed, after which all the details, methods and information has to be given off to the public. There is a constant maintenance fee that has to be paid to maintain the patent rights, failure of which to do so can get your patent revoked.
Patents are also territorial. If you file a patent in the US, the patent rights are valid only in the US. Hence, if it’s a huge invention and you want to patent it all across the world, you have to file it again in different countries.
This was all the basic information you need to know about patents. It is quite a simple concept, but the legal intricacies are deep, as protecting intellectual property perfectly is very important. This allows the person to retain the credit they deserve for it; the full monetary profits, and exclusive rights to it.