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.

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.

Warnings about Patents
Unless you are familiar with the Patents Act 1953 and the patent system, applying for a patent can be very complex. It is advisable that you obtain the services of a lawyer specialising in this area.

  1. The most important element of the application for a patent is that the concept, idea or invention is novel. The patent will not be granted for a concept or idea that is already known to the public of this country.

  2. Once the patent has expired it cannot be patented again.

  3. Keep copies of all forms and documents sent to the Intellectual Property Office so that you have full records of all correspondence and documentation of application for your patent.