Patents provide property rights to inventions. An ‘invention’ may be defined as a novel idea which permits in practice the solution of a specific problem in a field of technology. Patents are available for any invention, whether products or processes, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are capable of industrial application.
Thus, the TRIPS Agreement stipulates that countries shall grant patents for inventions in all fields of technology and for both:
- Processes, including those used in manufacturing products.
A patent in an exclusive right granted by a country to the owner of an invention to make, use, manufacture and market the invention, provided the invention satisfies certain conditions stipulated in the law. Exclusivity of right implies that no one else can make, use, manufacture or market the invention without the consent of the patent holder. This right is available only for a limited period of time. However, the use or exploitation of a patent may be affected by other laws of the country which has awarded the patent.
These laws may relate to health, safety, food, security etc. Further, existing patents in similar area may also come in the way. A patent in the law is a property right and hence, can be gifted, inherited, assigned, sold or licensed. As the right is conferred by the State, it can be revoked by the State under very special circumstances even if the patent has been sold or licensed or manufactured or marketed in the meantime. The patent right is territorial in nature and inventors/their assignees will have to file separate patent applications in countries of their interest, along with necessary fees, for obtaining patents in those countries.