Definition : Patent

The patent is a title issued by a public authority (INPI or EPO), granting its holder an exclusive territorial and time-limited exploitation right over an invention in exchange for the disclosure of the latter in the application and provided it meets certain conditions.

The patentee may prohibit third parties from exploiting, manufacturing, selling, importing or using the protected invention for a limited period of 20 years from the filing date of the patent application and for a given territory.

Since ancient times, inventors have sought ways to protect their inventions. Over time, states set up systems to grant an exclusive right to the inventor for a limited period in exchange for disclosure of the invention to the public. These systems evolved into what we now call a "patent". Patents are a key tool for encouraging innovation, enabling inventors to protect their ideas and reap the financial rewards. In exchange for the exclusivity granted, the inventor is required to describe the invention clearly and completely enough to enable an expert in the field to reproduce it.

Here's how to obtain this protection.

  1. Conducting a state-of-the-art search. Before filing a patent application, it's important to carry out a prior art search to check whether the invention is new and inventive. This can help avoid unnecessary expenditure on an application that is not granted.
  2. Drafting a patent application. The patent application must describe the invention clearly and completely. It is advisable to call on an intellectual property expert to draft the application, as this can increase the chances of success.
  3. Filing the patent application. The patent application must be filed with the appropriate body, usually the patent office or intellectual property office. Filing fees must be paid.
  4. Examination of the application. The competent body will examine the patent application to ensure that the invention meets the criteria for granting a patent.
  5. Grant of the patent. If the application is accepted, a patent is issued to the holder, who can then exercise his exclusive rights over the protected invention.

The process of protecting inventions by patent involves several key players, including lawyers and patent attorneys.

  1. Lawyers. Attorneys play a crucial role in the protection of patent inventions by advising and representing inventors or companies. The patent attorneys primarily assist their clients to enforce their patents, in the event of infringement, or to defend them or even to dismiss invalid patents that hinder market entry (i.e., revocation action). They also intervene to award employee inventions and to draw up contracts relating to patents (essentially license or grant).
  2. Industrial property attorneys. Industrial property attorneys are professionals specializing in the protection of intellectual property, including patents. They can help assess the patentability of an invention, draft and file a patent application, monitor competing patents, advise on intellectual property strategy, and help enforce patents in the event of infringement or litigation. IP attorneys are often experts in specific sciences or techniques, which enables them to better understand the inventions they are helping to protect.