A patent is a government grant of a 20 year monopoly to an inventor in return for a full and public description of the invention. Within limits, a patent allows control of the market for the invention during the term of the patent.
A patent is a negative right in the sense that it confers the right to exclude others from exploiting an invention. This is different to a positive right which guarantees an entitlement to the patentee to do something. Thus, a patent right to exploit their invention is subject to prior rights held by third parties as you can see from this article – https://arizonawet.arizona.edu/users/key-steps-patent-idea-through-inventhelp.
What is Patentable?
It has been said that “anything under the sun that is made by man” can be patented. In other words, any “artificially created state of affairs” that is commercially beneficial, is potentially patentable. In practice, patents are granted for new and useful products or processes.
In broad terms, structural and functional features of devices and processes are patentable, whereas aesthetic features are not.
Some examples of non patentable items are:
· mere ideas;
· mere verification of scientific formulas;
· decorative arrangement of printed material on a sheet; and
· mathematical formulas per se.
The law in this area is very complex and we recommend that advice be obtained from a patent attorney, before any decision is made that an invention is not patentable.
When to Apply
Ideally, an inventor should keep their invention strictly secret until a patent application describing the invention has been filed at the Patent Office. The patent law in US and overseas, in some circumstances, allows a patent to be obtained even when disclosure has occurred and you can learn more about it from https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/gotconcept/the-next-big-thing-in-invention/.
However, such disclosure will invalidate patent rights in most countries. Professional advice should be sought from a patent attorney on the consequences of any given disclosure.
If limited disclosure prior to filing a patent application is unavoidable, a confidentiality agreement, preferably in writing, should be obtained from the person to whom the invention will be disclosed.