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patenta grant of ownership rights by the government to a person or business in respect of the invention of an entirely new product or manufacturing process or a significant development of an existing product or process. In the UK, under the COPYRIGHT, DESIGNS AND PATENTS ACT 1988, the PATENT OFFICE can grant a patentee a monopoly to make, use or sell the invention for a maximum of twenty years from the date on which the patent was first filed. In order to obtain a patent approval, inventors are required to supply full details of the invention to the Patents Office and satisfy that body that the invention contains original features and that it has a demonstrable industrial application.
The monopoly protection given by a patent is not enforced by the Patent Office itself. It is the responsibility of patentees to look after their rights by detecting whether someone else is infringing them and then seeking redress for infringement through the courts.
Patents registered in one country may be valid in other countries if filed in a country which is party to a reciprocal treaty. The UK, for example, is a member of the 13-country European Patent Convention which allows inventors to obtain patent rights in the EPC countries by filing a single European patent application. Globally, patent applications are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty which enables investors to apply for registration in member countries with a single registration. WIPO has no powers of enforcement. However, under a GATT (now the WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION) accord (negotiated at the ‘Uruguay Round’) it was agreed to give investors a minimum patent term of 20 years in all member countries with members being obliged to enforce patent protection on patents recognised by each others national authorities.
The patent system has the twin objectives of both encouraging inventors to undertake the risks and expenses of breaking new ground by offering them temporary monopoly rights to profit from their work, and providing for the eventual dissemination of advances in technology to the benefit of society as a whole. See RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, BRAND.
patentthe grant of temporary MONOPOLY rights and control over new products, processes and techniques to their INVENTORS by the government. Patent protection is seen as an important means of fostering TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS by providing an opportunity for inventors and INNOVATORS to recoup development expenses and secure a profit reward for risk-taking. To minimize the danger of monopolistic exploitation, patents are granted for limited time periods only. In the UK, under the COPYRIGHT, DESIGNS AND PATENTS ACT 1988, the PATENT OFFICE can grant a patent for a maximum of 20 years.
The first transfer of title out of the government to a private individual or company.