Frequently Asked Questions

Intellectual property (IP) refers to intangible property created by mind of any human being. Such creations of the mind encompass inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. In almost all countries these intellectual creations of mind are provided with intellectual property rights.

A patent is a reward given by the government as a right to an owner of the patent in response to disclosing his invention before the public through the patent office. The owner of the patent, by exercising the patent right can exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention, and may commercially exploit his patented invention.

In majority of the geographies, laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, ideas offensive to public morality, mathematical formulas, literary and dramatic works and computer programs are not patentable. An invention is patentable only if its subject matter does not belong to any of the foregoing, and is new, not obvious and has utility or industrial applicability.

In contemporary world, an invention is developed after expending significant amount of labor, cost and time. In order to effectively utilize the potential of the invention and to encourage further innovations, some kind of legal protection curbing any possible unauthorized usage of the invention, becomes quite important. Patent is such a legal right, which allows the owner of the patent to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention without the consent of the owner. Such an exclusive right enables the inventor to benefit commercially from the invention. The society at large benefits from the disclosure of the invention and the utility to general life, it heralds.

Patent may be obtained by submitting a patent application disclosing the subject matter of the invention before a patent office in a prescribed form in a particular geography. Patent application may be filed as a provisional patent application or directly as a complete patent application. The provisional patent application is filed as an impromptu application disclosing the invention in a crude form and the applicant normally gets a period of one year from the date of filing the provisional patent application to prepare the complete patent application and file accordingly.

Answer to this common question primarily depends on your financial situation and the stage of development of the idea. For most inventors, who are not sure of whether their idea would receive interest in the marketplace, a PPA is the best risk/reward option. Further, if an inventor has not developed the idea to its full extent or is not sure about the exact scope of the idea, the PPA would be a better option as it ensures a priority date for the invention. Further, in the next 12 months of filing the PPA, the inventor may work on the invention to fully develop it, and better strategize whether filing a complete application would be worth the expense and whether the invention would be commercially exploitable or not. On the other hand, if the inventor has completely developed the idea and is relatively confident about the commercial potential of the idea, he can directly file the complete patent application..

For an invention to be patentable it has to be novel ( i.e., it should not be described in any printed publication anywhere in the world), non-obvious and useful. Accordingly, it would always be advisable for the inventor to get the invention ascertained for novelty and non-obviousness against any existing prior art. If any prior art is found in such prior art search, the inventor may decide not to spend considerable expenses involved in preparation, filing and prosecution of the patent application. Further, the identified prior art in hand may also provide insights in drafting patent application for the invention thereby avoiding any rejection in view of the prior art during patent examination.

Once the patent is granted, the owner of the patent may work on commercially exploiting the invention. Alternatively, the owner of the patent may grant license to the market players who are willing to use the invention. The owner of the patent may also initiate a legal action against other competitors making, using, selling, or offering for sale the invention without the consent of the owner of the patent, and may seek for financial damages arising out from such infringement of the patent.

A patent is typically granted for a term of 20 years, and in majority of cases the 20 year period starts from the date of filing of the patent application.

In the year 2006, total number of patent applications filed across the globe were 1,764,633, which were 4.9% more than filled in year 2005 (1,681,596). There is 91% increase in patent filing from year 1985 to year 2006 and 67% increase from year 1995 to year 2006. Despite global economic slowdown, around 1.85 million patent applications were filed across the world inyear 2007.

The majority of patent filings are from residents of industrialized countries and there is a strong relationship between the volume of patent filings and the level of GDP and investment in research and development in a particular country. China, Japan and the United States of America (USA) are the top three ranked countries in terms of GDP and R&D. In year 2007, of the total patent filing across the world, about 59.2% patent were filed in these three countries alone.

A trademark is a mark that distinguishes one company’s name or product from that of others. Such mark can be a word, name, phrase, sound, symbol, or device, or any combination, used to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others. Trademark serves as a unique way for the consumers to differentiate one brand from another.

In majority of the countries, registering a trademark is not necessary. However, registering the trademark has several advantages including (a) Trademark owner can give constructive notice to the public of the ownership of the trademark (b) Registration is prima facie proof that the trademark owner has the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the relevant goods or services (c) It is a crime to counterfeit registered marks, and accordingly a trademark infringement suit may be invoked in court of law in case of any such act (d) Registration of a trademark in one country can be used as a basis for obtaining registration of the trademark in foreign countries.

Copyright protects literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, dramatic, choreographic, musical, architectural, and other artistic works such as photographs, drawings, paintings and sculptures. Rights related to copyright also include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in recordings, and those of broadcasters in radio and television programs. Copyright is a transferable right and the owner of the copyright may transfer the copyright to any other party, if so desired. Further, subject to certain limitations, the owner of a copyright has the sole right to authorize reproduction of the work, creation of a work derived from the work, distribution of copies of the work, or public performance or display of the work.

Copyright protection arises automatically with the creation of an original work and its recording on a material form, so it is not necessary to apply for the copyright registration. However, copyright registration has certain advantages, such as, it can serve as a claim for such protection to the public, and in majority of the countries, the copyright registration is necessary before any infringement suit may be filed in a court of law.

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