What is a patent?

A patent is the exclusive right that protects a new product, working method or technology. A patent allows the inventor to benefit from his invention, forbidding competitors to copy the invention. A patent is granted by the government offering the inventor the possibility to act against companies copying the patented invention. Competitors are thus kept at a distance. The government grants patents in order to encourage technological developments.


Protecting investments

Companies face risks whenever they invest in new technology. A patent will forbid competitors from applying the new technology. This basically means competitors will not be able to benefit from the patent owner’s invention. The patent thus contributes to managing the risks of companies that invest in new technology. The government has determined the maximum term of validity for patents. After no more than 20 years (less in some cases) the patent will expire allowing all to apply the technology concerned. For medicines and crop protection products, a five-year prolongation is possible under certain conditions.


The invention

To be patentable your invention must at least meet the following requirements:

  • The invention must be new (it may not have been made publicly known)
  • The invention must comprise an inventive  step (this is a legal term indicating that the invention may not be obvious)
  • The invention must be industrially applicable

National laws and international conventions also set requirements to patentability. You may contact our advisors for more information.


Layout and content

A patent is a piece of text that is used to describe the invention. In this text the inventor clearly explains the invention for which he is seeking protection. The text must be provided with a front page including the patent owner’s details, the filing date of the patent application and the inventor’s name. This is followed by a description of the invention. The description should include the advantages of the invention with regard to the state of the art. The description does not need to cover all details of the invention, yet it should allow an expert to recreate its basic elements. A patent usually includes drawings to clarify the invention. The so-called claims must be stated at the end of the text. The claims describe the aspects of the invention for which protection has been granted. These claims define the patent’s level of protection.