Patents & The Law
A patent is used to protect new inventions with the purpose of allowing the creator of the invention to have the legal right to decide who can and cannot make, import, or sell the invention without their permission. Patents also cover how new inventions function, how they work and what they are made of.
Stipulations for PatentsThere are stipulations required in order for an invention to be patented. The invention must be original and be capable of being used or produced in some form of industry. There is no actual requirement for an invention to be patented but if the invention does go on sale or the invention is made public then it will be too late to obtain a patent. It makes sense to obtain a patent in order to stop other people from copying your invention.
Patents and the LawOne of the requirements for patent rights is that the inventor does need to give full disclosure of the invention. Details of the patent are then disclosed in patent libraries. A UK patent only maintains rights for the invention in the UK; that is to sell, import, manufacture and use the invention within the UK. International patent rights can be applied for within 12 months of filing the original patent application. Once the patent has been granted it will then be the duty of the holder of the patent rights to stop infringement of the patent from others.
Timescale of PatentsIn Britain patent rights last for 20 years from the date the patent application was filed. During the 20 years the patent will need to be renewed and renewal fees will be applicable. If the patent lapses through non payment of renewal fees or the 20 year timescale expires then the patent rights will also expire and the invention can then be exploited by anyone. However, there may be other intellectual property rights attached to the invention that will stop invention exploitation by others.
Patent AgentsAlthough it is not required many inventors will use patent agents in much the same way that authors use literary agents. Patent agents will be able to give advice on the best way of commercialising the invention and deal with applications and negotiations with the patent office. They will also be knowledgeable on the best way to protect the invention and the inventor’s rights outside of the normal patent route.
Patent FeesThere is no fee for a patent application but it will cost around £200 in fees in order to obtain a patent grant. If the patent is granted there will also be renewal fees to pay, and if you hire a patent agent then his or her fees will also need to be paid.
Patent InfringementPatent infringement is taken very seriously and hefty fines have been applied by the law for infringement. Cases of infringement of patent rights have been found in very large and very well known companies and the financial penalties imposed have ranked at the millions of pounds level. Inventors who are applying for patent rights will need to check with the patents database in order to make sure that they are not infringing on anyone else’s patent rights.
Patent law has been set in place to both protect the rights of the inventor in much the same way that copyright exists for authors, musicians and artists. Gaining a patent for an invention is not an easy process and in some cases it can take a few years, but it is the sensible approach to take in order to prevent other from exploiting what could be years of hard work.