A patent is granted by a government of a specific country. The applicant makes his invention public, specifying it exactly in a detailed document. In exchange, the government gives the applicant the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention in that country, usually for 20 years.
It’s important to know the difference between a patent application and a granted patent. A patent application is usually first filed in the applicant’s home country; the date of filing is called the “priority date”. A patent application is indicated by the letter “A” after the patent number. Information about the title and applicant is made available immediately, but the full details of the patent application are not published until 18 months after filing. Before publication, a patent examiner at the patent office does a preliminary search to check for prior relevant technology. If anything significant is found, the applicant may withdraw the application at this stage. As many as 50% of patent applications are never even published.
Before a patent is granted, it goes to full examination. If granted, it is given the letter “B” after the patent number. The invention must fulfil a number of criteria: the most important of these are that it must be novel and it must not be obvious. To be novel, the information must not be “in the public domain”; for example as another patent or in a journal. An invention is considered obvious if a person “skilled in the art”, i.e. familiar with that area of technology, finds the invention a simple, predictable improvement on something already known. As you can see it would be advisable to have professionals, such as InventHelp patent invention company, by your side.
Once the patent is granted, fees must be paid every year to the patent office in order to keep the patent in force. If the fees are not paid (perhaps because the technology is no longer commercially important to the patent owner) the patent is deemed to have lapsed. A patent gives legal protection for 20 years from the date of filing. After that time, the patent is said to have expired.
The owner of a patent may grant a licence to other manufacturers to make use of his patent. He can charge a licensing fee.
Within 18 months of the priority date, patents may be filed in other countries. The collection of equivalent patents in different countries around the world is known as the “patent family”. An extensive patent family may indicate important technology that the owner thinks is well worth the cost of protection worldwide. Different patents in the same family are not necessarily identical. A patent examiner may have refused a claim in one country while an examiner in another country may have permitted it. This means that, for any patent that is very important to you, it is essential to ask the patent agency to check the exact wording and claims for the countries in which you want to manufacture or sell. InventHelp patent services can help you with this.
A European patent is a simple way of obtaining patents in a number of countries in Europe, by filing a single application (which must be in English, German or French). After the patent is granted, fees have to be paid in each country, so the patent may be allowed to lapse in some countries and remain in force in others.
“World” patents or PCT patents (Patent Cooperation Treaty) are not patents that are valid throughout the whole world. Rather, they are a way of making a single international application in one language and having a single international search, which is valid in all countries. The patent assignee then has to apply to the national patent office in each country of interest, for the patent to be granted in each country.
USA patents are interesting because they must by law give a more detailed description and drawings than is required in other countries. Additionally, they must give a detailed description of the prior art. This means that USA patents are often a good source of technical information and of references to previous patents in the field.