WHAT IS A PATENT?
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF A PATENT?
When you have a patent you have the exclusive right to a technical invention. This could, for example, be the microscope, but also a further development of a bicycle stand. Large or small, as long as the invention is novel, inventive and industrially applicable, a patent gives you a temporary monopoly.
Fun fact: the literal meaning of patent is: open letter. The word is derived from Latin.
DEFINITION OF A PATENT
At EP&C we use the following definition of a patent:
A patent is an exclusive right to commercially exploit a product or process for a maximum period of 20 years.
The intellectual property right that you obtain with a patent gives you the exclusive right to do the following with your product or process:
- Offer it commercially
- Manufacture it
- Use it
- Market it
- Let it
- Supply it
- Trade in it
- Introduce it
- Keep it in stock
In return for this exclusive right, the innovation is brought into the public domain. By sharing this knowledge, society continually becomes smarter.
ANOTHER WORD FOR A PATENT: OCTROOI
'Octrooi' is the Dutch word for 'patent', although the word 'patent' is used more often in popular speech. So it does not matter if you use the term octrooi or patent, they are both the same.
PATENTS ACT [RIJKSOCTROOIWET]
When a patent is applied for the Netherlands Patent Office (OCNL), which is a government body, will grant the patent on the basis of the Patents Act. The Patents Act lays down the requirements a patent must meet:
The Patents Act was amended in 1995. The most important change was that from that point on all patent applications were registered without being assessed first. From an international perspective, this is a fairly exceptional procedure. Our colleague Matthijs explains how it works in his blog.
APPLYING FOR A PATENT
Before applying for a patent, it is good to consider whether this is the right thing to do. Sometimes it is better not to apply for a patent as another type of protection may be more effective. On the patent application page you will find all relevant information and answers to the following questions:
- How long does it take to apply for a patent?
- What do I need to do to apply?
- How much does it cost to apply for a patent?
The beauty of the patent system is that all information about patents is available in the public domain. You can do preliminary research yourself by searching for a patent in a patent database such as Espacenet. This is a database of the European Patent Office. It contains millions of patent publications.
The 'Searching patent databases' manual contains tips on how to conduct your search as efficiently as possible.
Patent databases contain information such as:
- What patents has my competitor applied for?
- Which patents have been applied for in relation to a particular innovation?
- In which countries is a patent valid?
In addition, it is a unique place full of technical information, trends and developments in all fields. In short, it is a source of inspiration that is well worth a visit!