No one applies for patents in all of the countries of the world. How many widgets do you expect to sell in Burma aka Myanmar? And are you really going to try and defend a patent in Kazakhstan? Getting serious, unless you're careful, the cost of patents can quickly exceed any profit you might expect from your invention. Patents on the same invention in other countries are more or less copies.
Even so, Japan is particularly expensive. But there are some savings when filing in multiple European countries. To patent a simple invention in just four countries, including the cost of the original filing Part of the cost is translation. The PCT application enables you to preserve your right to file international patent applications in any of approx countries except for Taiwan and Argentina for a couple of years.
The details of the PCT application, its filing requirements, timing, the rights you preserve etc. Do you have a question? Ask Mike. All factors that described above have an influence on cost for international patents. There is a tool for IP budget estimation www.
Do I need a patent to use my invention?
Wow, this has actually helped me but there are several terms used that I failed to understand i. But here is my question because I have a great idea that I am afraid to share without Patenting it first, also I will like to work with an international company that works perfectly on similar idea though mine is quite different and its not being used yet. Is it possible to have it Patent in my country and later share my idea with an international company? How does my country Patent affect or cover my discussion with an international company?
I will like to know this and also is it ideal for me to tell the company to take the risk of patenting it in my company name in their country before I can fully discuss it? Please I will be glad if I can be enlightened on this. Thank you. Abimbola - You should discuss all of your questions with a patent attorney or agent in your country who will be able to give you professional advice about your specific situation. More generally: A patent is comprised of two main elements, a disclosure and claims.
The disclosure describes the background and details of your invention including both prior art and things that are new and novel. The claims cover only the things the patent office thinks are new and novel. You can stop someone from copying the things covered in your claims but not the things that are disclosed but unclaimed. A PPA can be filed without claims although many practitioners recommend that at least one claim is included because it is not reviewed by an examiner.
In a sense a PPA is really a patent reservation comprised of a full disclosure of your invention. It gives you a priority date at a much lower cost than a non-provisional patent that is reviewed by the examiner. If you can get a good Confidentiality Agreement also known as a Non Disclosure Agreement or NDA , that will probably protect you better than a patent application. One of the dangers of patents filed at early stages of development is that they often fail to cover significant aspects of the invention - the things that will ultimately be covered in patent claims.
As for the protection offered by your country patent - that will protect you against someone making, using, selling something that incorporates your invention within your country. The fact that you own a patent will often deter competitors from using your invention. It helps to refer to it in your product literature once your patent has been granted.
However, if your invention is being used by someone without your consent infringement you can obtain an injunction to stop them and claim damages compensation. You cannot sue for infringement until your patent is granted. However, once your patent is granted, you may be able to claim damages in retrospect from the date your patent application was published. If you want protection in countries other than the UK, you need to file further applications. Several options are available. The EPC allows you to apply for a patent in up to 38 European countries by filing a single application.
A patent is then granted in each of the chosen countries. Further details can be found here. The PCT is the nearest system to an international patent, covering most of the industrialised world. One application is filed to cover a number of countries, but the application eventually splits up and proceeds in each country separately. We can explain these systems to you in more detail, and discuss their relative merits, at a later date.
However, for countries which do not belong to either the EPC or the PCT you have to file a separate patent application. You have to decide within twelve months to file applications in other countries and these further applications will be treated as if they were filed on the same date as the first one, provided they relate to the same invention.
This is called claiming priority from your first application.
This is useful since it gives you a year to work out whether your invention is commercially viable before spending large amounts of money on patents in other countries. A few countries will not give you this one year breathing space. If you need patent protection in such countries, you will have to apply at the same time as you make your first normally UK application.
A patent attorney can handle all aspects of obtaining a patent, from writing the specification of the invention — the description and the claims — to arguing the merits of the invention with the UK Intellectual Property Office. It is possible to do this yourself without employing a patent attorney. However, a patent specification is a legal document which can determine the strength of the patent you get and which has to be able to stand up against legal attack. Employing a patent attorney may increase your costs in the short term, but it is likely to give you a more secure patent. People may then read about your invention, t hough they cannot make, use or sell it without your permission.
You can also use your patent to make a profit by selling it, licensing it or using it as an asset to negotiate funding. The rights given by a Canadian patent extend throughout Canada, but not to other countries. You must apply for patent rights in other countries separately. Likewise, foreign patents do not protect an invention in Canada. People occasionally confuse patents with trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies. Like patents, these others are rights granted for intellectual creativity and are forms of IP.
However, there are important differences:. You may be tempted to protect your creation by simply keeping its information secret and selling the creation. The information is then known as a trade secret.
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The recipe for Coca-Cola is an example of a trade secret. You will run into problems, however, if another person independently invents or discovers the subject matter of your trade secret. There is nothing to prevent that person from using it, applying for a patent or publishing the information. The benefit of keeping a trade secret is that you do not have to make your innovation public as you do when you are granted a patent.
Suppose you are the proud inventor of an electric door lock. How do you know if you can get a patent for it? There are three basic criteria for patentability—novelty, utility and inventiveness:. Although you may obtain a patent for an improvement to an existing invention, keep in mind that the original patent may still be in force. If this is the case, manufacturing or marketing the product with your improvement may be an infringement of the original patent.
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This situation is often resolved by agreement between the patentees the people who own the patents to grant licences to each other. If you believe that this is a concern with your invention, you should discuss it with a patent agent. A patent is granted only for the physical embodiment of an idea for example, the description of a possible door lock or for a process that produces something tangible or that can be sold. You cannot patent a scientific principle, an abstract theorem, an idea, some methods of doing business or a computer program.
In Canada, patents are granted to the first inventor to file an application, so it is smart to file as soon as possible after you complete your invention in case someone else is on a similar track. Even if you can prove that you were the first to think of the invention, you lose the race if a competing inventor files before you do.
However, filing while you are still developing your invention may mean missing important features from the patent application. You may then have to reapply, adding to your expenses and risking possible patent disputes. Again, it is very important not to advertise or disclose information about your invention before you are ready to file for a patent. Public disclosure of your invention before filing for a patent may make it impossible to obtain a valid patent and jeopardize the possibility of you receiving similar rights in other countries.
With so much information stored in each patent, it is not surprising that CIPO has the largest collection in Canada of current technological know-how from around the world. CIPO's data holdings contain more than two million Canadian patent publications grants and open to public inspection applications , most of which are searchable on our website or by doing an in-person search at the CIPO Client Service Centre. Many of these patents are for "end-of-the-line" improvements on inventions that have been around for decades.
But some are pioneering inventions that have opened up whole new fields in technology. Electronics, for example, started with a patent on a vacuum tube. The information in these patents not only covers every conceivable field, but is also possibly the most up-to-date information available.
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This is because patent applications are generally made public 18 months after filing. One of CIPO's goals is to make patent information available to Canadian industries, universities and research centres to help them keep abreast of innovations. The information can be especially useful to small and medium-sized businesses because it enables them to conduct their own research easily and inexpensively. Not taking advantage of CIPO resources could cost you time and money, especially if you end up reinventing the wheel.
A significant amount of all research and development in Canada does just that by duplicating patented technology. A search of the patent literature may prevent this kind of wasted effort. Learning about the existing solutions to certain technical problems can also give you ideas for better inventions. In almost any field, some work has already been done somewhere. Perhaps the solution to the problem exists in a foreign patent that you can use freely here in Canada.
Patent documents can also reveal trends and sources of new products, show what the competition is doing at home and abroad, and help you find new suppliers, markets or know-how that you can use under licence. If you are a business person, researcher, engineer or student, a search through patent documents can help you:. Your competitors may be using the information in patent documents to their advantage.
Can you afford to ignore it? A good early step is to undertake a preliminary search of existing patents. This will determine if your invention, or a similar one, has been patented already. If so, there is no need to proceed further. The database is interactive and easy to use. It allows you to do simple yet powerful searches on Canadian patent information from the comfort of your home or office, free of charge. When you access the Canadian Patents Database online, you can do a preliminary search of patent information dating back to You can do a search using key words, the name of the inventor, owner or applicant, the international patent classification and more.
Once you have searched online, you may also wish to take advantage of more functionality and better data coverage by visiting CIPO's Client Service Centre in person. It supplies, free of charge, information on a variety of subjects such as: procedures for filing patent applications and for registering trademarks, copyright, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies. Intellectual property information officers provide many services.
They can help you with information related to:. Our information officers can also guide you in your IP searches through various IP databases, including:. As a first-time visitor, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea of searching through so many patents. IP information officers are available to help you with your search; however, they cannot do the search for you. Registered patent agents are specialists who must pass a rigorous examination in patent law and practice before being allowed to represent inventors before CIPO.
Preparing and prosecuting following through on a patent application is a complex job. Prosecution involves corresponding with CIPO, taking actions set out in the Patent Act and Rules within strict timelines, making any necessary changes to the application and fixing the legal scope of the patent protection.
All this requires a broad knowledge of patent law and Patent Office practice—knowledge you can expect from a registered patent agent. A trained patent agent will make sure your application is properly drafted so your invention is adequately protected. Hiring such an agent is not mandatory but we highly recommend it. Please note that if you have transferred some or all of your rights to the invention, a patent agent must be appointed by law.
Once you have appointed a patent agent, CIPO will correspond with no one else about the prosecution of your application, including you. You may, however, change patent agents at any time or choose not to have one anymore. Patent agents' fees are not regulated by CIPO; you and your agent should agree on fees before work on your application begins.
CIPO provides you with a list of registered patent agents but cannot recommend any particular one to you. Please be aware that there are individuals who provide advice regarding patent applications and prosecution of patent applications before CIPO who are not registered agents with CIPO. These individuals have not passed the patent agent licensing exam, which is the qualifying test for patent agents in Canada.
These individuals are not authorized to represent applicants before CIPO. Note : You may wish to view our tutorial on how to prepare a patent application. The description must be clear and accurate, and it should be as simple, direct and free from obscurity and ambiguity as possible. The description is addressed to people in the field to which the invention pertains and must be written so that those people would be able to put the invention to the same successful use as the inventor.
After the patent is issued, information you specify as protected by your claims cannot be used freely for example, to make or sell your invention by others until the patent expires. Information not protected by your claims can however be used right away by anyone. The challenge is to draft the claims so your invention is defined broadly enough to provide maximum protection while at the same time being specific enough to identify your invention by making sure it is different from all previous inventions.
Inventions that can be illustrated by drawings must be illustrated in your application for a patent. The drawings must clearly show all parts of the invention. The role of the drawings is to clarify the principles of how a device is constructed rather than to provide all of the particular details of dimensions or relative proportions.
To help your agent in getting the strongest possible patent while avoiding unnecessary costs, you can prepare a statement covering the following points:. Filing a patent application means preparing a formal application and asking the Commissioner of Patents to grant you a patent. A complete patent application includes the information required to obtain a filing date as well as the following:. Note : It is best to file a full description of your invention and a complete application from the start; however, this is not always possible.
If necessary, any of the items listed above may be submitted, without charge, within the 15 months following the priority date or the filing date, if there is no priority date. If your application is still incomplete after 15 months, you will be notified by CIPO, and you will have to complete the application within a certain amount of time as well as pay a completion fee. You should not submit models and specimens of your invention unless the Commissioner of Patents requests them. Once CIPO accepts your application for filing, the application is assigned a number and filing date.
You will be informed about these. This is no guarantee of a patent; it simply means your application is pending. The application will be open to public inspection that is, the public will have access to your application 18 months after the filing date or priority date. If you wish, you may request to have your application published earlier.
You must formally request examination and pay the examination fee. This request must be made within five years of the Canadian filing date; otherwise, your application will be considered abandoned. There are several reasons why you might file an application and not automatically request examination. Perhaps you need time to assess the feasibility or marketability of your invention. If so, filing provides some protection for your invention, possibly making your competitors less likely to infringe on it that is, make, use or sell it for fear of having to pay retroactive compensation should your patent eventually be granted.
However, if you do not request examination within the five-year period and the reinstatement period has passed, anyone will be able to freely make, use or sell the products or processes described in your application. Once you have requested examination, be patient! The large number of patent applications that CIPO receives means the examination process may take more than two years. After your patent application is made available to the public, anyone may raise questions about the patentability of your invention or one of its claims by filing what we refer to as " prior art "—information that might cause the patent examiner to object to one or more of your claims.
Prior art can be patents, patent applications that have been open to public inspection, and published material that has a bearing on the case. Anyone may also file a protest against the granting of a patent. Such protests will be made available to the public. You may have special reasons for wanting an early examination of your application. Perhaps you expect competition soon or you hope to establish a business once you have received protection for your invention.
If your case is exceptional in this way, you may ask for advanced examination. An extra fee will apply. Note : CIPO will not consider an advanced examination request unless the application has been laid open to public inspection and you have made a request for examination. It is not uncommon for the patent examiner to object to a claim. The examiner may find previous patents or publications that show every feature of one or more claims in your application. Or, the examiner may feel some claims would be obvious to a person with ordinary skills in the field.
The examiner's objection will be outlined in a report or letter called a "Patent Office action," which will list the objections, and set a date for you to reply. The action may object to your whole application or only some claims, or it may ask for other changes in your application.
Do not feel discouraged if the examiner objects to some of your claims. You may respond to the objections as long as you do so within the period that the examiner specifies in the action. You or your patent agent must send your response to the Commissioner of Patents. Your response may ask the Commissioner to amend your application by changing or cancelling some claims, or adding new claims. You must refute or overcome each objection raised by the examiner. Your patent agent will carefully study the Patent Office action to help you decide whether to proceed, amend or abandon your application at this point.
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If you decide to continue, you may be able to help prepare an amendment letter to point out the new features and advantages of your invention as compared to others listed in the Patent Office action. Let your agent know quickly if you want to make changes to your invention, as she or he may recommend filing a new application. Once the examiner receives your response, they will review it and prepare a second office action.
This may be a "notice of allowance" informing you that your application is allowable or it may be a request for further amendments. If further amendments are necessary, the request for amendments may be in the form of a written office action or the examiner may contact you if you have not hired a patent agent or your agent by phone to discuss the amendments required.
This exchange may be repeated until the examiner allows your application or states that the action is final in other words, that you may not proceed. If the examiner makes a final objection to your application, you have the right to appeal to the Commissioner of Patents, requesting that the Commissioner review the examiner's objection.
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The review is conducted by the Patent Appeal Board, a special committee of senior Patent Office officials. Before your patent application is rejected you may appear before this board if you wish. If the Commissioner objects to your appeal and refuses to grant a patent, you may take your case to the Federal Court of Canada. After your patent is issued, any person, including the Commissioner of Patents, may ask that one or more claims of your patent be re-examined if new prior art is found related to the patented invention.
This can happen at any time during the term of your patent.