What is a Patent?

Updated: Sep 17, 2018

A Patent is a licence granted to an inventor to exclude others for a limited period of time from using, making, selling an invention.


What kind of inventions can be protected?


Generally an invention is Patentable if it is new, results from inventive activity and is capable of industrial application or if it constitutes an improvement upon a Patented invention and also is new, results from inventive activity and is capable of industrial application.


How can inventions be protected in several countries?


Generally, there are two options: Using the "Paris Route" or the "PCT Route".


The Paris Route

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Intellectual Property (Paris Convention) applies to all areas of Intellectual Property (trademarks, patents, industrial designs, utility models). In simple terms, it connotes that when an application is filed in the home country, the Applicant has 12 months from the filing date in the home country to file an application in another country (convention country) of choice that is a signatory to the Paris Convention. This means that the application filed in the convention country will have the same filing date as the application filed in the home country.


What should be noted about this option is that the Applicant has just 12 months to file the application in each convention country of choice as opposed to the "PCT Route" which provides the Applicant more time to file applications in designated states.


The PCT Route

PCT stands for Patent Cooperation Treaty. It is an international patent law treaty which provides a consolidated procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its designated states.


The Applicant starts by filing an International Application in the receiving office. The Applicant thereafter has 30 months or 31 months, depending on the country, to file a national application in a designated country that is a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The international filing does not grant a Patent. Patents are granted in each designated state.


The advantage with the PCT Route over the Paris Route is that the PCT Route gives the Applicant more time to file the application in other countries.