Protecting your products using a patent
A patent gives you a competitive advantage. It can safeguard a newly developed product against copying and help generate a better financial return.
You can use patents to prevent other individuals or companies from exploiting your inventions. By protecting your products in this way, you will be able to sell them by avoiding competition with other suppliers for up to 20 years.
When a patent has been granted, the period of protection is retrospective counting from the date of the application. This deters anyone from copying a product that is the subject of a patent application as doing so may result in liability for damages should the application be successful. By indicating clearly on the product that a patent has been sought, an important competitive advantage can be gained as soon as the application has been submitted.
Inventions vary greatly. They may be highly sophisticated or as simple as a paper clip. What they share in common is a technical solution that can be exploited financially. Patents are granted not only for technical innovations, but also for systems, methods, and substances.
For a patent to be granted the invention should not have previously been in the public domain. For example, it should not have appeared in brochures, magazines, newspapers, or patent documents. If the invention has not been publicly disclosed outside of the company, it is usually considered to be new.
The idea must also be an invention in the legal sense, possessing ’inventive merit.’ This means being substantially different from anything currently on the market. It does not have to contain new components as long as the arrangement of the known components is sufficiently original.