What is a patent?

A patent provides an exclusive right. Its owner may prevent all third parties, not having consent, from doing any act falling within the scope of protection of the patent.

A patent is applicable
For an invention a product, method, or use in any field of technology that is:

  • capable of industrial application
  • new and
  • inventive.

Who can apply for a patent?

In most countries, a patent can be applied for by:

  • a natural person (an individual)
  • a corporate entity (Inventors are always natural persons. However, in the United States only a natural person can apply for a patent which, after filing, can be assigned to a corporate entity)
  • a combination of multiple natural persons and/or corporate entities The parties agree that all patent rights shall be co-owned.


Patents are national matters, although the rules may differ form country to country. Some organisations grant simultaneous patents in multiple countries, but in the final analysis, all become national patents.

Different patent procedures can be distinguished:

  • a national patent procedure - Patent applications can be filed at the national patent office. Formal requirements and procedures differ from country to country.
  • a European patent procedure - Patent applications can be filed at the European Patent Office (EPO), which conducts searches and examines the validity of application. Once a European patent is granted, it can be validated in 40 countries, upon which it becomes a group of national patents.
  • an International patent procedure - Patent applications can be filed at the World International Property Organization (WIPO). The applicant is given a 30-month period to decide in which of 144 countries protection is to be sought.