A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a novel way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A patent typically grants protection for the invention to the owner of the patent. The protection is however granted for a limited period, generally 20 years, this is exchange for a full disclosure that an inventor(s) make. Patentprotection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed or sold without the owner’s consent. The important thing to note here is that, you can only enforce patent protection once the patent has been granted. Before grant, you can let people know that your product is subject to patent protection by indicating “Patent pending” on all your products.
There are three key requirements for patentability:
- Novel - this means that the invention has to be new and never been disclosed publicly (including self disclosure by the inventor!), e.g. through journal publications, conference presentations and posters, online web postings or thesis examination.
- Inventive - This requirement means that the invention should not be ‘obvious’ to a person skilled in the art i.e. a person with general training in a particular field. Generally means that, it should not be something that some would routinely do when faced with a similar challenge.
- Useful – this means that there is ‘industrial’ application and is generally easily met.