Introduction to patents
Introduction to patents

The following IP practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Introduction to patents
  • What is a patent?
  • Applying for (registering) patents
  • Ownership
  • Territory
  • Writing and filing the patent
  • Reaction from competitors
  • Having a patent does not stop you infringing
  • Mechanics of registration
  • Is the invention patentable?
  • More...

This Practice Note provides an introduction to:

  1. what is a patent?

  2. applying for and maintaining patents

  3. dealing with patents in agreements

  4. patent assignment and licensing

  5. patent disputes

For more information about applying for and maintaining patents and transactions involving patents, see: Patent transactions and management—overview.

For more information about disputes involving patents, see: Patent disputes—overview.

What is a patent?

A patent is a form of property which protects certain types of technical innovations. Patents do not cover information or what things look like, which might instead be protected by trade marks, copyright or design rights.

A patent is a document which sets out the invention and is registered at an intellectual property office or patent office in a particular country. A patent document has two main parts:

  1. the specification—this is a written description of how the invention works, usually accompanied by some diagrams to explain it in more detail

  2. the claims—these are numbered paragraphs which state what the owner of the patent 'claims' is the invention over which it wants protection

If a company has spent time and money developing new technology, it may decide to try and keep this technology secret (as a trade secret) or it may wish to register it as a patent. The reward for disclosing an invention in a patent document is a finite period of exclusivity in the marketplace, during which time the patent

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