Innovation and technology have proven to be excellent partners. In fact, the whole idea behind patents is to drive innovation. Greater technological advances often allow more individuals and businesses to innovate which can lead to a surge of new inventions. And with that rises the challenge to protect the right of the inventors. It's here that patents can become significant. A patent protects provides protection to many different types of inventions, including products, methods, systems, compositions of matter, improvements on existing patents, and more.
So What Is a Patent?
A patent provides exclusive rights to the inventor or an assigned owner to make, use, and sell their invention. In order to obtain a patent, the patentee must provide a detailed description of their invention, including how it works, in a manner that allows others to create a working version of the invention. An incomplete description can result in invalidity of a patent. If a patent is successfully issued, rights are granted for up to 20 years from the day of filing.
The next question being: -
What Criteria Must the Product Meet to Obtain a Patent?
First of all, for an invention to be patented, it should be new. This means it should not have previously existed anywhere in the world. An invention is considered to be new if the "exact" invention is not described in any applicable piece of prior art. Prior art can include photographs, literature, patents, patent applications, scholarly works, website printouts, products on sale, and any other materials known prior to the filing of a patent application. A patent search can provide insight into whether or not an invention is likely to be considered new. An invention must be useful. To be considered useful, it must have some sort of purpose. Most inventions have at least some usefulness. An invention must also be non-obvious. Non-obvious is often the most challenging criteria to meet since it relates to whether or not an invention is actually considered to be innovative. Putting several different elements together in a way where they all work exactly as expected is probably obvious. However, if elements are used in an unconventional way to create an unexpected result, that can be non-obvious and patentable. Even if your invention is new, useful and non-obvious, it must also include patentable subject matter. Professional skills, mathematical equations, higher life forms and abstract ideas are not protectable by patents.
Patents Generally Fall into Three Categories
Utility Patent: It's probably the most common type of patent amongst inventors. This patent provides protection to an entirely new product, useful process, the composition of matters, machine or an improvement in the already existing machine model or adding more features in the existing model. The term machine is a broad term. It covers all dimensions of a machine, from manufacturing the machine to the application functions of the machine. Moreover, composition refers to chemical compositions that may comprise a mixture of ingredients or a new chemical compound.
Plant Patents (Plant Breeders Rights): These patents are available to any new and distinct type of plant. The vital ingredient to obtain a plant patent is that the plant must not be that which is found in an uncultivated state or is not what is called a tuber propagated plant, i.e., an Irish potato. This type of protection is currently common in the cannabis field.
Design Patent (Industrial Design): While utility patents protect function, design patents protect a specific design of a product. Now the question remains what is covered within the definition of design? The answer is all "surface ornamentation" in different shapes, sizes, and patterns. The design and the object must not be two separate things. To ensure the protection of features that relate to its function or structure, an inventor must file for a utility patent. Furthermore, it's helpful to keep in mind that drawing and design images are essential elements for the documentation process to obtain a design patent. It is possible to file both design patents and utility patents for the same invention.
Now that you know about the different types of patents, hopefully, you can assess if you need to apply for a patent. The decision to file a patent is an important one that has the ability to impact your business. In Canada and the US, an inventor has one year from the date of a public disclosure to file a patent application, however there are many benefits to filing a patent application before making a public disclosure.
If you have questions about patents and whether or not they are the right choice for you and your business, connect with a patent agent or lawyer in Edmonton today.