⇦ Back to intellectual property

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, and names used in commerce. In this lesson, we will focus on the legal aspects of intellectual property, specifically patent law and practice.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a legal document that gives the holder the exclusive right to make, use, and sell an invention for a certain period of time. In order to obtain a patent, the invention must be new, useful, and non-obvious. This means that the invention must not have been previously disclosed or made available to the public, it must have some practical application, and it must not be an obvious improvement over existing technology.

The Patent Application Process

The patent application process can be lengthy and complex. It typically involves conducting a patent search to ensure that the invention is not already patented, preparing and filing a patent application with the appropriate government agency, and responding to any objections or rejections from the patent examiner. The patent application must include a detailed description of the invention, including how it works and how it is made, as well as any drawings or diagrams that are necessary to understand the invention.

Rights and Limitations of Patent Holders

Once a patent is granted, the holder has the exclusive right to make, use, and sell the invention for a certain period of time, typically 20 years from the date of filing. This means that no one else can make, use, or sell the invention without the permission of the patent holder. However, there are some limitations to this exclusive right. For example, others may be able to use the invention for research or experimental purposes without infringing on the patent. Additionally, the patent holder may not be able to prevent others from making, using, or selling similar inventions that do not infringe on the patent.

Enforcing Patents

If someone infringes on a patent, the patent holder can take legal action to stop the infringement and seek damages for any harm that was caused. This typically involves filing a lawsuit in court and proving that the infringing activity is covered by the patent. In some cases, the patent holder may be able to obtain an injunction to stop the infringing activity while the lawsuit is pending.


Patent law and practice is an important aspect of intellectual property law. By obtaining a patent, inventors can protect their inventions and prevent others from using or selling them without permission. However, the patent application process can be complex and enforcing patents can be costly and time-consuming. It is important for inventors to understand the requirements for obtaining a patent and the rights and limitations that come with it.

Now let's see if you've learned something...

⇦ 2. Introduction to Intellectual Property 4. Trademark Law and Practice ⇨