Patenting is a strategic tool to secure the development of new products and services to benefit the society.
Patent protection gives a competitive advantage, and is in many cases essential for the commercialization of a technology through licensing or in a start-up company.
Patents are limited in time to normally 20 years and give the owner the right to prohibit others from producing, using or selling the patented invention. Patents can be granted to a product, a process or a use of a product.
There are some criteria that need to be fulfilled to obtain a patent, and in general a patent will be granted as long as the invention:
- is new or “novel”. The invention must not have been made known to the public in any way or anywhere before the date on which a patent application is filed.
- involve an inventive or “unobvious” step. The invention must differ significantly from what is already known, and must not have been obvious for a person skilled the art.
- is capable of industrial/useful application, and inventions must be capable of being made or used in some kind of industry.
The inventions must also be sufficiently disclosed in the patent description, and reproducible. It is also a requirement that the invention has a technical character and resolves a technical problem, merely ideas and abstract matters are not patentable. Inven2 will assist in determining whether a potential invention meets the qualifications for patentable invention.
Publishing and patenting
Patenting does not prevent you from publishing your invention, but not to destroy the novelty requirement, you have to file the patent application before the invention is made public. A publication or public disclosure of an invention means any non-confidential transfer of knowledge, written or oral, and includes articles, lectures, exhibitions, public sale or use of the invention, and also electronic publication on internet. It’s important to be aware that titles and abstracts are often available online prior to conferences and many journals also place material on the web prior to written publication. This involves an increased risk for loss of patent rights. In the US the inventors have a one year grace period where they can publish before filing a patent application without destroying the novelty of the invention. This however, will only entitle you to a patent in the US.
A patenting process will normally not delay academic publications, as long as Inven2 is contacted in good time before the publication. A few weeks should be spent on drafting the patent application, and this is done by a skilled patent attorney in close cooperation with the inventors and Inven2. If necessary, a patent application can be filed on a very short notice, but this is not ideal.
Who is inventor?
The inventor(s) is (are) the one(s) who has given an independent, intellectual contribution to the invention. Merely a practical contribution, e.g. having performed experiments after instructions, or organized or financed the work, is not a contribution to the invention as such, and do not qualify for inventorship. The contribution does however not have to have been an invention by itself.
Inventions often arise in collaboration between several people, and sometimes it’s difficult to decide on the true inventors. It’s then important to specifically define the invention, and to look at the patent claims can be a good starting point for assessing the individual contributions.