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What is a Patent?


In 1449, Henry VI of England grant-ed the earliest known English pa-tent to Flemish-born John of Utynam for a method of making stained glass that had not previously been known in England. In 1641, Samuel Winslow was granted the first patent in North America for a new salt-making process. Venice is said to have issued the first patent in the world in the early 1420s, to glass-makers.

So what exactly is a patent, and what does it do? A patent gives exclusive rights for an invention. To get a patent, your invention must be new (in other words, it’s not known to persons in its technical field); non-obvious (as in, those same persons would not have come up with the invention); and industrially applicable (It’s useful in that technical field). If your invention meets these requirements, you will be granted a patent.

Patents, like trade marks and design rights, are territorial – meaning you have to file an application for protection in every country in which

you seek parent protection . Once protection is obtained from the national intellectual property office (IPO), the patent owner has exclusive rights to make, use, sell, import or distribute the invention.

So Now it’s Quiz Time: What do Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson have in common?

They both worked as patent examiners. Patent examiners are trained professionals who are experts in various areas of science and engineering.

Patent examiners are required to investigate each application to determine if the invention has been disclosed in such a way as to allow experts in the field to use it. They also examine the invention to decide whether it is new and non-obvious. To do this, they often search through publications, educational materials, and other IPOs’ databases to ensure that the invention is in fact original. Patent examiners then prepare a report based on the three requirements and any other legal requirements, to support their decision of recommending that a patent be granted or detailing why the invention does not meet the requirements.

Besides the exclusive rights given to the owner, a grant of patent has many advantages. Although it can-not be renewed, patent protection is for 20 years. This give the owner a significant time frame which competitors cannot make, use or sell the invention without the patent own-er’s permission. Especially for manufactured inventions that become top sellers, that’s 20 years in which no one else can sell the same invention. This leads to the next ad-vantage: Revenue. A patent can be licensed to others to use, make or sell the patent. In fact, some businesses exist only on royalties generated from patent licensing. Having patent protection or having applied for a grant of patent is also useful when negotiating a license agreement, because it avoids having the prospective licensee opting out of the licensing agreement and then filing an application to patent the invention.

So the next time you make a call on the telephone, replace a light bulb, buy penicillin, use a hair dryer, play an electric guitar or spray an aerosol can, remember that all these inventions are or once were protected by a patent! So what’s stopping you from being the next great inventor?

Published in  www.caymaniantimes.ky