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Patents - a brief overview

Written by Corinne Day on 19 November 2009

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Patents are monopoly rights granted by the government to protect inventors.

Patents are important because, without them, commercial organisations would not invest in the research required to produce new inventions.

The owner of a patent holds a monopoly right over the invention for a period of twenty years. When the patent is granted, the details of the invention become public knowledge. When the twenty years expire, the public are able to utilise the invention as and how they wish.

An invention will be patentable if it satisfies four conditions (i.e. as contained in section 1 of the Patents Act 1977):

- The invention must be new;

- It must constitute an inventive step;

- It must be capable of industrial action; and

- It must not be excluded as an invention which is incapable of being protected by a patent.

If you are considering applying for patent protection over your invention, you should contact a Patent Attorney who will be able to guide you through the process.

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