Patent Primer

What is a patent?

A patent is a legal right granted by the government that allows you to stop others from making, using or selling an invention during the term of the patent. In Canada, a patent owner has the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention claimed in the patent for a term of twenty years from the filing date of the patent application. After the patent term expires, the invention falls into the public domain and is free for everyone to use.

Patents are territorial, meaning that you have to file a patent application in each country of interest in order to obtain patent rights in those countries. The grant and enforcement of patents are governed by national laws, and while the laws of most countries are generally similar, each is unique. While there are international treaties in place to provide certain benefits for applicants who decide to file in a number of foreign countries and these international treaties can help to defer patent costs, a patent must ultimately be obtained in each country of interest.

A patent is a right to exclude others from benefiting from your invention. The primary purpose of a patent is to prevent other people from copying and profiting from your invention. It is not necessary for you to have a patent in order to sell a product, and having a patent does not give you any express right to make and sell your product. For example, your product must comply with all applicable laws, and even if you have your own patent, making and selling your product may infringe other patent rights owned by third parties. Thus, the issue of ensuring that you will be able to sell your product must be dealt with separately from the issue of obtaining patent protection for your product.

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