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Know the Facts on Patent Law

Know the Facts on Patent Law

What is Patent Law?

A patent does not refer to a right to practice or use an invention, but rather, the right to exclude others from using, selling, making, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention. Once patented, the underlying invention will be protected from use, sale, production, or importing for the term of the patent, which is typically 20 years from the filing date. 

In effect, a patent is a limited property right offered by a government body to investors in exchange for the agreement to share the details of the inventor’s creation to the general public. Similar to other forms of property rights, a patent may be sold, mortgaged, assigned, transferred, licensed, given away or abandoned.

The rights conveyed by a typical patent, will vary by country and jurisdiction according to the specific law found in the geographic area. For instance, in the United States of America, a patent will cover research, except efforts made in a purely philosophical inquiry. A United States patent will be infringed upon, according to United States patent law, by any replication of the invention, even if the effort goes toward the development of a new invention.

Characteristics of Patent Law:

All patents, according to patent law, are forms of exclusionary rights; this however, does not give the holder of the patent the justified right to exploit the patent. For instance, the majority of inventions are improvements of prior inventions that may be covered by an existing patent. 

As a result, if an inventor takes an existing, patented invention, subsequently adds a new feature to improve the invention, and obtains a patent to claim the improvement, the inventor can only legally build his or her improved invention assuming the original patent for the invention is still valid. Now that being said, the owner of the improved invention can exclude the original patent owner from using the improvement. 

The grant and enforcement of a patent will be governed by national laws and international treaties, where those agreements have been given effect in national patent law. As a result of these characteristics, patent law is territorial in nature. 

In most instances, a country will form a patent office with responsibility in regards to operating that nation’s patent system, within alignment with its relevant patent laws. The particular patent office will typically have responsibility for the grant of patents; infringement issues are cases heard by the national court system. 

In most nations, both individuals and corporate entities may apply for a patent; however, in the United States, only the inventor of the underlying creation may apply for a patent. 

The inventors, according to United States patent law, become the proprietors of the patent when the document is granted. If a patent is granted to more than one individual, the laws of the underlying country and any applicable agreements between the proprietors may affect the extent to which each individual involved can exploit the patent. Contact patent lawyers to review your case.