What is a Patent?
Intellectual Property Rights are legal rights that shield and protect works and inventions made as a result of intellectual activity in the domains of industry, science, literature, and the arts. Patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets are the most prominent IPRs.
A patent is a property right granted to an inventor by a sovereign body. In exchange for a complete disclosure of the innovation, the inventor receives exclusive rights to the patented process, design, or invention for a set length of time.
Globally, most patents are valid for 20 years from when the application was submitted with the respective patent office, though few exceptions allow a patent's validity to be extended.
Patents are complicated legal papers; therefore, seek professional guidance if you want to perform an in-depth examination of the legal concerns and risks involved.
Let us dive straight to the crux.
What is a Patent Application?
A patent application is a written description of an invention that enables a person competent in the relevant technical field to create and use the invention. This explanation typically contains drawings of the invention and the inventor's best method for carrying out the innovation.
Each section of a patent application has a distinct function. When all pieces are put together, it gets granted by the respective patent office and you’ll have a patent that protects your idea.
What are the different parts of a granted patent?
This is relatively self-explanatory – it is the patent's complete title. The applicant typically chooses the title, but the patent office may advise revisions throughout the inspection process.
Claims are the most significant part of a patent application since they define the invention's scope. Anything not listed in this section is outside the size of the protection and hence cannot be considered at any point during the prosecution or litigation process. Additionally, choosing the right jurisdiction and venue is a critical element to consider if you wish to proceed with the patent litigation process. The knowledge of calculating damages during patent litigation is also essential. In other words, the claims' objective is to specify which subject matter is covered by the patent (or sought to be protected by the patent application). A patent claim works as a notice warning others about what they must not do to avoid infringement penalties.
This Abstract provides a brief overview of the invention described in the application. Thanks to this summary, the Patent Office (and the general public) can immediately determine the nature of the disclosed subject matter.
The Abstract must be no more than 150 words long, and it is frequently based on the claims initially filed in the application that led to the issued patent.
The purpose of the background is to explain the existing state of the art and how your idea addresses those difficulties. It sets the setting for an Examiner to comprehend why your invention is distinct and different from others on the market.
The detailed description is the patent's principal technical disclosure, and it explains how your invention is made or how it functions. For competitors to not be able to design around your idea, the specification provides multiple distinct variations or embodiments of your invention.
Although the United States Patent Office does not mandate patent drawings, they can significantly speed up the patent granting process.
All stated elements must be depicted in the drawings.
The patented invention does not include drawings labelled "Prior Art." They are, however, used to document any prior methods that existed before the creation.
Citations (Forward and Backward)
Traditionally, patent examiners used patent citations to discover relevant prior art during a prior art search swiftly. Patent citations are references to existing technologies that can be found in patents or other scientific literature and that the current patent was based on or uses. They're pretty similar to the citations you'd find in a research paper.
Backward and forward citations are the two most common types of citations. A backwards citation refers to prior art found in a patent, whereas a forward citation refers to the same patent found in another patent.
Anyone who helped develop the invention described in at least one patent claim will be included here, along with their city of residence.
However, most of the time, the inventors assign their rights to their workplace or another company.
The assignee is the entity that owns the patent's property rights.
The assignment of a patent is unrelated to the inventorship of the invention. The inventorship of a patent can be assigned to several different entities, but once correctly declared, the inventorship does not alter.
To increase the chances of your patent being granted, you must refer to these patent drafting practices.
Dates (Priority, Publication, Grant, Expiry etc.)
A patent's priority date refers to the earliest filing date within a family of patent applications. It is also known as the "effective filing date," used to determine a patent's novelty and obviousness compared to the prior art.
The priority date may be sooner than the application's actual filing date. If an application claims priority over an earlier parent application, the priority date of the child application may be the same as the parent's.
The filing date is the date when a patent application is first filed at a patent office. This is the watershed date for evaluating what prior art can be utilised to invalidate the invention for all claims in the patent.
Is There a Difference Between a Patent Priority Date and a Filing Date?
When just one patent application is involved, the priority date is the filing date of that single application.
If there are many related patent applications, the patent's priority date will be the filing date of the first patent application that first showed the innovation.
After the lapse of 18 months from the date of filing of the application or the priority claimed to date, whichever is sooner, a patent application is published in the Official Patent Office Journal. This document contains all vital information about the application.
The patent's grant date is when the patent is granted by the official body - the respective patent office.
Patents do eventually expire. The duration of a patent is usually 20 years from the filing date of the application in most patent laws currently. After this stipulated amount of time, the patented matter falls into public domain unless the patent is renewed.
The novelty of the patent
The term "novelty" refers to the concept that only truly innovative innovations are eligible for patent protection in patent law. Novelty means "new in comparison to the prior art," It refers to the necessity that an invention is distinct from existing prior art to be patented.
The bottom line is - A patent claim must be novel to be patentable.
What is a family patent?
A patent family is a group of patent applications that cover the same or related technological subject matter.
Priority claims to link the applications in a family together.
The family can be bifurcated into two types:
Simple Patent Family
A simple patent family is a group of patent filings that are thought to cover the same idea. The technical content of all applications under a single patent family is the same.
Patent applications that belong to the same simple patent family will be prioritised in the same way.
Extended Patent Family
A collection of patent applications that cover technology is known as an extended patent family. Although the technical content of applications in one extended patent family is comparable, it is not always the same.
Patent applications that are part of an extended patent family will all share at least one priority – either directly or indirectly – with at least one of the other members.
What is a reissue patent?
Reissue applications help fix flaws in previously issued patents.
The following are the most prevalent reasons for filing a reissue application:
The claims are too narrow or broad;
The disclosure is incomplete;
The applicant failed to claim foreign priority or claimed it improperly, and the applicant failed to refer to or incorrectly referred to prior co-pending applications.
What is the Continuation-in-part application?
A continuation-in-part (CIP) application is one that we file while an earlier non-provisional application is still active. It also comprises a considerable amount, if not the entire, of the initial non-provisional application. It also contains information not revealed in the preceding non-provisional application.
It's also known as an "add-on" to a previously filed patent application.
This allows inventors to add "improvements" to the original design after the filed patent application. Because the invention in the CIP is substantially the same as the invention in the parent, the majority of the specifications will duplicate the description provided by the parent application. However, new information may be added to describe/depict the improvements.
It's worth noting that claims in the CIP related to the subject matter revealed in the parent application are entitled to its filing date. Claims relating to the subject matter introduced in the CIP, on the other hand, are solely entitled to the CIP's filing date.
Patents are legal protection that allows people to profit financially or gain recognition from what they invent or create. The Global IP system attempts to build an environment where creativity and innovation flourish by attaining the correct balance between innovators' interests and the more considerable public interest.
Pros and Cons of having a patent
Patents have numerous potential benefits and drawbacks.
Let us look at the advantages first-
An innovation is considered the inventor's intellectual property once it has been patented. It belongs only to that person, and they have complete authority over how they utilize it.
Without the authorization of the creator, a patented innovation cannot be manufactured, duplicated, or sold. It isn't open to competition.
A patent can help an innovator discover new things and improve in value over time.
At the creator's option, patent rights can be sold or licensed for royalties to a third party, allowing a company to grow into other countries or markets. Because they control the market, the inventor may also charge a higher price for the goods. To get a better idea of the scope of a patent for patent licensing and acquisitions, one must determine the patent quality in a comprehensive manner.
When your small business is looking for investors, a business partner, or when negotiating with a potential buyer, a patent can be a useful tool. It may even raise the value of your company and provide you with more negotiation power.
Your patent application entails disclosing specific technical details about your idea to the general audience. It is possible that keeping your idea a secret will help you keep competition at away.
Applying for a patent can be a difficult and time-consuming procedure (usually three to four years) - markets may change or technology may advance before you receive a patent.
Cost - whether you are successful in obtaining a patent or not, it will cost you money - the application, searches for existing patents, and the fees of a patent attorney can all add up to a considerable outlay.
If the patent holder forgets to pay the annual fee, the patent will expire. After reading this, the first question that pops into the mind is - Can you enforce an expired patent? Well! The answer to that is not simple and needs to be examined thoroughly.
You must be willing to defend your patent if it is infringed upon. Monitoring, tracking down, and bringing any wrongdoers to justice for infringement may be both costly and time-consuming.
Obtaining a patent grants you exclusive rights to a certain design or function of a product. A wealthy competitor might easily copy the product and make enough changes to make it legal. As a result, if you lack equivalent resources, you may fall behind.
You can only stop competition in the country where you have a patent since patents are territorial.
Having said that if you believe your innovation has commercial potential in other countries and plan to develop those markets, you'll also need to factor in the cost of filing a patent application in that country. You may be able to deduct this expense from the patented item's estimated revenue over the patent's term.
Protecting your product or idea as an inventor is critical for several reasons. It provides you full control over the fate of your creation, as well as creative and material acknowledgment. Protecting an invention also ensures that technological and economic improvements continue, which benefits everyone.
You won't be able to sell or license your idea to a third party if you don't have legal ownership of your intellectual property (click here to learn about Patent License Agreements). If you don't have a patent, your idea could be "knocked off" by competitors, or worse, patented before you.
In any case, the method you choose to protect your invention will be determined by your particular conditions, with the most obvious considerations being cost and time.