Patents provide Protection

What is a Patent?
A patent is a right granted, giving you exclusive authority or right to commercially exploit your invention for a particular period. The right is granted for any device, substance, method or process. It has to be new and original to you. You are granted the right to stop others making, selling, using, importing or dealing in that product or processes that are covered by the patent.

The right granted for patent protection is not automatic. You need to apply for the rights of ownership to the invention by filing a patent application for registration. A patent is legally enforceable, but in some countries this is not always feasible because of the costs involved.

Under the USA law, a Patent is a time limited right granted under the Patents Act 1953 ("the Act") for any invention that is a "method of new manufacture".

Patents provide certain types of Protection
Patent copyrights and trademarks, as well as trade secrets, are referred to as intellectual property. This area of intellectual property, especially patents, is confusing to many people who have incorrect notions of what a patent entails and what it can do for a business.

Some people believe that a patent will guarantee that the product will succeed in the market. Once a patent is obtained, they spend thousands of dollars marketing the product, even though they don’t know whether there is a demand for the product or whether customers can afford it.

All a patent does is provide a certain amount of protection. It protects you, as the developer or inventor of that product by giving you an exclusive right to commercialise it for a period. Even if you decide that you do not wish to patent your product, you may still need to confirm that you are not infringing on the rights of other people who hold a patent for a similar product.

How Patents Work
When you (as an inventor) create a new device the first thing you need to do is patent it. This patent is the government’s way of giving you exclusive ownership of the product you created for a certain period of time. This allows you to reap the financial revenue from your original work and in effect, puts the control of the product into your name.

You do not need to register a patent on your product, but if you don’t, other people can develop a product which is the same, or similar, and put it on the market, thus cutting into the potential of your work. If they decide to put a patent on their product, you would be excluded from marketing your own product - because you don’t have the patent – they do.

Patents are probably the most complex and most regulated in the family of intellectual property. Patents are essentially there to protect the idea or design of your invention and are much trickier in protection than copyrighting.

If you need to patent your invention, understand that the invention must be unique to you. It must be original and novel. That is, it cannot be the same as any other similar patented product, or a product that is already on the market. Also, it cannot be already used or published.

Be careful, therefore, that the product is kept “under wraps” until a patent has been applied for.

Qualifying for a Patent
You will only qualify for a patent if:

  • It is totally new and unique to you.
  • It is an invention that has merit.
  • It can be manufactured and used in the marketplace.
  • It has not been marketed already, or published or sold.

A patent, however, will not be granted if the invention is:

  • A discovery that you have made.
  • A creation such as a literary, dramatic or artistic work (that usually comes under copyright).
  • A theory or mathematical method or calculation.
  • A computer programme.
  • A method for carrying out an act or playing a game, etc.