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What is a patent

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5 Minutes

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Dvorah Graeser

A patent is a form of property. Surprising but true! Patents are a form of property, just like buildings, vehicles, and other tangible assets that a business may own. However, unlike these physical forms of property, patents fall under a unique category known as intellectual property. Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, designs, and artistic works. 

Just as you can own a building or a car, you can also own a patent, which grants you exclusive rights to an invention or idea. This ownership allows you to control how your invention is used, manufactured, and sold, providing a valuable asset for your business. Understanding the concept of intellectual property and how patents fit into this category is crucial for businesses looking to protect innovative ideas and maintain a competitive edge in their industry.

Patents are filed by an innovator (the owner of an invention) at the government patent office. For example, in the US, the owner of the invention would file at the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office). A patent provides innovators with legal rights that protect their ideas.

A patent has three key benefits for your business:

  1. It gives you the legal right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing your patented invention for a period of time. Therefore, a patent can make your business outlook more stable.

  2. It increases your company's valuation. Investors want to invest in ideas with minimal risk. Startups with patented ideas are more likely to not only receive funding, but to also receive an increased level of investment.

  3. It boosts your overall business performance. Patents incentivize research and development around your product. They also provide stability for your company, which in turn boosts your sales, employee retention and much more.

However, not every idea is patentable. To be eligible for a patent, an invention must meet certain criteria:

  1. It must be novel. This means that the invention must be new and not already known or used by others.

  2. It must be non-obvious. The invention cannot be something that would be obvious to someone with ordinary skill in the relevant field.

  3. It must be useful. The invention must have a practical application and be capable of being used in some way.

When a patent is granted, it gives the owner exclusive rights to the invention for a set period of time, usually 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. During this time, the patent owner can prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention without permission.

It's important to note that a patent does not give the owner the right to make, use, or sell the invention themselves. Rather, it gives them the right to exclude others from doing so. This means that even if you have a patent, you may still need to obtain licenses or permissions from others if your invention relies on technology that is covered by their patents.

Obtaining a patent can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it's often advisable to work with a patent attorney or agent who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your application meets all the necessary requirements. However, for businesses that rely on innovation and want to protect their unique ideas and inventions, patents can be a valuable tool for securing a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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