Posted on Tuesday 18 July 2017 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property
When it comes to seeking patent protection there are many procedures and legalities to follow. At times, it can be a difficult journey with many uncertainties and questions along the way. However, that needn’t be the case and here at Cruickshank we want to offer you some advice and guidance when it comes to going down this path. After-all our Patent Attorneys have a wealth of experience and knowledge and through the years have witnessed many common issues arising out of applying for patent protection. Before we begin to dispense their advice let’s look at the basics first.
What exactly is a patent? According to the Irish Patent Office a patent
“Confers upon its holder, for a limited period, the right to exclude others from exploiting (making, using, selling, importing) the patented invention, except with the consent of the owner of the patent.”
Basically, it is a set of exclusive rights (protection) given to the holder of a patent for a certain amount of time usually 20 years and during this period they can prevent others from using and marketing the invention or license it and receive royalties. During the 20-year period of protection you will be required to pay annual renewal fees to ensure your patents is kept in force.
So where to start?
Know Your Invention.
Carefully consider what it is you want to get a patent for. An invention typically comprises of a product or process. It must be new and show an inventive step which has not been done before while also being industrially applicable. Where possible try and determine if it is in fact a patent you want or a trademark. While a patent protects an invention a trademark protects logos, symbols, words and phrases used for goods and services. Remember patent protection offers no such protection for a trademark and vice versa. While this can all be discussed with a patent attorney it is always better if you have established some form of clarity, so a patent attorney can better understand your needs.
Do Not Disclose Your Information.
This is rule Number 1 when it comes to filing a patent application. If you are serious about securing a patent right on your invention it is incredibly important you protect your idea by not speaking to anybody about it. Disclosure may jeopardise your entire invention, communicating with the wrong person could quickly see your idea taken out of your hands and used. However, at times disclosure may be unavoidable and you may need to communicate with other companies or suppliers for various research and commercial reasons regarding your idea. If this is the case, ensure you have a signed non-disclosure agreement (NDA) put in place. Remember disclosing your idea without protection can have serious consequences on how you wish to proceed.
At times people do not pay enough attention to the idea of ownership, sometimes until it is too late. Ownership should be established early on during the process. If self-employed your invention remains yours. If working for a company or in a partnership depending on employment contracts the invention may automatically become property of the employer. Try and have a solid agreement structure in place and the idea of ownership and possession fully clarified.
Know Your Marketplace.
Remember markets are global and if you want your invention to work you need to know if there is firstly a demand for your product and what countries you would like to file in, otherwise it will make the whole process pointless. Ask yourself, do you want to just register in Ireland? Or perhaps you would like to expand around Europe or further? By researching this information your patent attorney will be able to advise on a cost-effective way to securing patent protection in your chosen marketplace.
Be in It for The Long Haul
People can underestimate the length of time it takes during the patent application process. There are many stages involved in the journey and in some cases, it can take years before a patent is granted. While every case is different it is still something worth noting if you are serious about taking this path.
Finally, and most importantly.
Speak with A Patent Attorney.
Once you have an idea for an invention, speak with a patent attorney sooner rather than later. Remember they are the professionals and their job is to guide and advise you every step of the way. While you can apply for a patent yourself through the Irish Patents Office or the European Patent Office (EPO) for example, it is highly recommended you seek professional advice. Patent law is complex, and patent attorneys are highly trained and educated in their field so there is no reason as to why you should take this journey alone.
The information above does not constitute as legal advice but rather general information.
If you have an idea that requires protecting or simply need an expert in European IP Law, then please get in touch with us today.
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