What is a patent?

Innovation is key to commercial success and enables companies to stay one step ahead of the competition. However, research and development can be a costly and time-consuming process, and it can count for nothing if a competitor is able to exploit the invention once it’s released. A patent helps secure this investment by providing legal protection for technical ideas.

A patent protects the inventive concept behind a product. It may cover a new product, method or process, or a new use for a product. The invention need not be groundbreaking, and many patents cover very narrow technical advances — but it must be new, useful and inventive at the time the patent is filed.

It’s important to keep your invention confidential before applying for a patent. Once approved, a patent provides a monopoly, enabling the owner to prevent others from using the invention for a period of up to 20 years. The patent holder is therefore able to maximise the commercial advantage of the invention by preventing others from using the invention without their permission.


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