A patent is a contract between the inventor of the patent and the State, whereby the inventor gets a monopoly from the State for a certain period in return for disclosing full details of the invention. Patents protect the technical and functional aspects of products and processes. A patent gives the applicant/inventor the right to exclude others from exploiting (making, using, selling, importing) the patented invention except with the consent of the applicant.
The owner of a patent is anyone registered as the proprietor, for example if an invention is made by an employee, the employer will be the owner/proprietor. Patents are a form of industrial property that can be bought, sold, licensed or used by the owner. In Ireland, patent protection lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application. Irish short-term patents are used to protect smaller inventions and may be granted more rapidly, but provide protection for only 10 years. To qualify for patenting an invention must be new, involve an inventive step and be capable of industrial application.
Novelty: An invention is considered new if it has not been made available to the general public in any form, before the date of filing of the patent application.
Inventive step: An invention is considered inventive if it is not obvious to a person skilled in that area of technology.
Industrial applicability: The invention must be capable of being made or used in industry.
Step 1. The first step in the patenting process is to research whether patents on the same invention already exist. This can be done by searching http://ep.espacenet.com/ using key search words and searching under the categories relevant to the invention. The Technology Transfer Office can provide advice and assistance in the search.
Step 2. The inventor should complete the Enterprise Ireland patent application form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for review. It will then be forwarded to Enterprise Ireland for approval.
Step 3. Once patent funding approval is received, Hothouse the Innovation and Technology Transfer Office will engage a patent agent to meet with the inventor/s to prepare the patent filing. The patent agent will develop the filing based on notes, sketches and other documentation provided by the inventor. The inventor reviews and approves the content of the patent filing before it is filed with the patent office.
The costs of patenting will be covered by DIT and/or Enterprise Ireland. The patenting costs increase considerably at each of the three main patenting stages i.e. the first stage involves initial filing. the second, filing an international application and the third, designating specific countries.
Other ways to protect your IP include;