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In exchange for sharing with the public your creativity and innovation (by way of publishing your invention in the patent journal), the patent office awards you a monopoly in the invention of 20 years, which allows you to prevent others from putting that invention into effect in the territory for which your patent was awarded.

The patent does not give you the positive right to put your invention into effect as there may be other, more senior, patents which prevent you from doing that without a licence.

A patent does however give you a potentially quite broad exclusive right, which breadth is determined according to the claim, which defines the invention in words, granted by the patent office. To infringe another's patent claim, there is no requirement that they show copying. Your independent endeavour could produce a product that infringes another person's patent if they got to the patent office first (except in the US, where if you can show you invented the invention first, you will be awarded the patent).

If someone is carrying out an act (such as making, selling, using or importing a patented product) that infringes your patent, you would first ask them to stop infringing and subsequently may take the issue to court to defend your monopoly.

Patent Facts

Protect:

Inventions and concepts per se

Effect:

Without permission, or a license from the patent owner, no person or company can make, use, import or sell a patented product into the country covered by the patent irrespective of whether that person or company copied the idea or created the product independently. Patent protection is an absolute right.

Duration:

20 years from the date of filing of the application

Cost:

Very High. For a single invention, you could expect patent protection in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, the US, Japan and China together to cost in the region of £100,000.

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