For those of us without a law degree, there are many aspects of the law that can seem somewhat hazy and be difficult to follow. Among these perhaps one of the most complicated and confusing elements is intellectual property law, and particularly the aspects pertaining to patents. While you might expect that any idea you come up with should automatically be protected by law as yours, the reality is of course much more complicated and it can be difficult to understand precisely why this is or how to navigate it should you want to protect concepts of your own. Here then we will look at patent law in a bit more detail and attempt to decode some of the more complicating elements.

What is a Patent?

First of all it’s very important to understand what a patent is and how it differs from other forms of intellectual property law. Essentially then a patent is a form of protection for an idea but only one that is mechanical in nature. In other words, patents are designed to be used for inventions and discoveries whether that’s a chair that can’t fall over, a drug that can help combat cancer or a multitouch sensitive phone screen. On the other hand what you can’t get a patent for is something like a book or a song that you’ve written, because these are not mechanical and are instead more creative. Such a kind of idea requires a copyright instead while things like brands and character names come under the banner of the trademark. There are also different types of patent – for instance a utility patent applies to the actual mechanical workings themselves of your invention, while a design patent applies to the look of it.

Limitations of a Patent

Copyrights and patents meanwhile are very different and it’s important to understand the limitations of getting a patent specifically. For instance, while a copyright will last a lifetime, a patent is something which can only last for 20 years. This then means that after 20 years, anyone will be able to start using your concept. While you might think that this is very unfair however, it’s actually for a very good reason – as otherwise someone could patent something that was critical to human progress or that was very useful for certain demographics – imagine for instance that someone patented a cure for cancer and then charged huge amounts for it, of course it’s necessary here that that patent eventually run out to prevent a serious monopoly.

There are other limitations too to consider however. For instance it is important to recognize the fact that patents are not always internationally recognized – what is protected in one country may still be copied in another in some cases and you may find that you have to get separate patents for each territory to be completely safe.

The wording of patents is also very important and here a potential danger is that someone might find ways to get ‘around’ your patents and thereby manage to bring out a similar product without breaking the law. This is why it’s so important to use a professional lawyer who is experienced in creating watertight patents.

When Dennis is not working, he is busy spending quality with his family and blogging. Visit his site to read his last blog on the criminal lawyers in Dandenong.