The interest has risen in preventative protective measures against counterfeiting and product piracy. To make sure nobody steals your ideas and innovations, applying for a patent on time is an effective solution. But before preparing the application, it?s important to collect information to avoid problems and eliminate legal and judicial obstacles.
To give an overview on patent law, the leading questions of this article are: Why should I patent my invention? What benefits come along with the application? What are the requirements? And what is the procedure of the application?
The Benefits of Patent Protection
The main purpose of patent law is the protection against counterfeiting and product piracy. A patent’s duration is 20 years, and it guarantees a geographically limited right of prohibition. Furthermore, a company can unlock an additional source of revenue by licensing their patents.
The application of a patent secures all the efforts you have put into an innovation.
When a patent is granted, your intellectual property is protected, and you get the ability to enforce your rights against infringers. Additionally, patents are a flagship for a company?s excellence in innovation and research performance. They provide information on the latest technical developments and make this knowledge available to the general public. Patent databases are updated regularly, so possible solutions to technical problems can be found easily.
Which Innovations Can Be Protected with a Patent?
To register a patent, certain conditions need to be fulfilled. First of all, the innovation has to be an invention relating to a field of technology.
The invention has to
- be new: The invention is rated as new, when it stands out from the current state of the art.
- be based on an inventive step: The invention has to be more than just slightly further-developed considering the current state of the art.
- be industrially applicable: An invention is industrially applicable, when its item can be produced or used in any field of industry, including agriculture. The majority of inventions fulfills this condition.
There are some products and procedures, which aren?t patentable, e. g. academic theories and mathematical methods, as well as schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, or doing business as such. Aesthetic works like furniture, sculptures, patterns etc. are not patentable. These works can be protected with a registered design instead.
New plant varieties, animal breeds and substantially biological processes for the breeding of plants are also excluded from patent protection. But a new plant variety can, under certain circumstances, be preserved by variety protection.
A quite important question nowadays is: Can a programmer get his software protected by law?
Unfortunately, patenting a software as such is prohibited in Germany. This means, that, in practice, a mere computer program cannot be patented. But when a computer program is part of a technical device, it can fulfill the conditions for a German patent application.
So, How Do I Apply for a Patent? What?s the Correct Procedure?
Before developing any kind of innovation, it?s very important to carry out an extensive and thorough research on the latest state of the art. Inform yourself in time about already registered patents to avoid patent violations. This prevents your company from avoidable trouble, additional lawyer’s fees and damage claims.
During the inventing process and especially when it comes to its end, always keep in mind: File first – publish later!
A patent can only be granted if the innovation hasn?t been published, either verbally or in written form, before its applcation. Even, if your invention is published by a third party, this would then define the current technical standard ? I.e., your patent won?t be granted, because your product is no longer new. Exceptions are made only, when the publication by third parties in a certain period of time is clearly the result of an abuse, for example if a secrecy agreement has been violated.
You can submit the application for the grant of a patent at every DPMA (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt) department and at patent information centers. The application date is significant for the application review, e.g. to determine the state of the art. All documents have to be prepared well, the explanation of the invention has to be formulated fully and finally. We don?t recommend provisory applications. To avoid mistakes, which could cause the rejection of the patent application, contact a qualified lawyer in advance.
All required application documents can be found here: http://www.dpma.de/patent/anmeldung/
What problems did you face with patent applications? Do you have any suggestions for other applicants to overcome those obstacles?