A patent is an exclusive right given to a person for an invention, design, process or creation that excludes others from copying or using it unless permitted by the patent holder. The patent rights are conferred only for a short period of time. The limited time period is given to the patent holder in order to help the inventor recoup the time and resources he or she utilized in creating the invention. Patent is meant as a reward to people who are engaged in research and development. The inventor is required to disclose all information regarding the innovation to the patent office in exchange for patent rights.

The patent is not a right given to make, use or sell the patented invention, but rather it is a license to prevent anyone else from selling, manufacturing or using the patented invention unless the patent holder has granted permission. A patent is usually granted for 20 years.

The patent can be of four types, these are design, plant, utility and reissue patents.

Requirements for Patents

Patents cannot be arbitrarily granted to anyone. There are certain requirements that have to be fulfilled before it can be granted. The requirements are as follows:

  • Patentable subject matter – the innovation for which the patent is being sought should be considered to be worthy of patent protection.
  • Useful – The innovation or invention has to be useful, and its use can be substantiated.
  • Originality – There are two requirements to fulfill this one prerequisite. These are novelty and statutory bars. This requires the inventor to prove that the invention is new. The statutory requirement states that there should be no mention anywhere of the invention more than one year before the filing of the patent. In other words, the patent seeker has to seek a patent in a timely manner. If there is a delay, then the patent may be denied.
  • Non-obvious or includes an inventive step – This requires that the subject be inventive and nonobvious to be granted a patent.
  • Enablement – this requires the patent seeker to provide all the information about the invention in order to enable other people to use the innovation after the patent term is over.

Process for Patent Application

Each country has its patent licensing authority. In USA, it is the US Patent and Trademark Office that deals with all patent applications. The process of seeking a patent is called “prosecution”.

Here is a step wise guide of the prosecution process:

  • Filling in the Patent Form  – that include the following:
    • Specifications
    • Summary of the invention including drawings is needed
    • Claims listed at the end of the specification
    • A declaration that the inventor is the first person to invent the matter described in the summary.
    • Application fee
  • Checking by the PTO – once the application has been filed it is checked by the PTO to ensure that everything is in order so that it can be received.
  • Fate of the Application – once the examination of the application is over the fate of the application is decided. The PTO may do any of the following:
    • Grant the patent if everything is in order
    • Reject the patent based on some or all the claims made in the application
    • Issue an objection if there is a problem with the application form.
  • Notify the applicant – if there is a rejection or objection the examiner has to notify the applicant quoting the reasons for rejection or objections in order to help the applicant in deciding whether to continue with the prosecution or not.
  • Options available for the applicant in case of rejection or objection to the patent application – The applicant has the option to have a re-examination of the application. The applicant can choose to either amend the application based on the recommendations in the rejection or objection notice or choose to ignore them while resubmitting the application.
  • Second or Final Rejection – if the application is denied a second or final time then the applicant can go to the Board of Patent Appeals and then to the Federal Court.

Patent Owner’s Rights

Once a patent has been granted, it gives the patent holder the absolute privileges to stop others from manufacturing, using, selling the patented product or service in any way without the explicit permission of the patent holder. If there is a dispute or infringement of patent rights, the patent owner can seek restitution in court.