Patent Knowledge Center 1 Basic Concepts 1.1 Patent and Patent Systems

1.1 Patent and Patent Systems

1.1.1         What is a patent?

A patent is the grant of a right by a government, which exclude others from making, using, and selling the patented invention in the country or region that the patent is granted.


A typical term of a patent is 20 years from the effective filing date. However, different countries have different laws regarding this. In some countries, patent terms can be extended under certain circumstances, especially for pharmaceutical patents.


Generally speaking, the term “patent” used in most parts of the world refer to “utility patents”, or “invention patents”, which are examined by patent examiners to assess their patentabilities. However, there are unique “patent” categories in certain countries. For example, in United States, there are “design patents” (called industrial designs in other countries) and “plant patents” (plant varieties). In China, there are “utility model patents”, which are not substantively searched.


Before a patent is granted, the document in prosecution is called a patent application. If a patent is refused by a government, it would go “abandoned”. Normally, applicants of a patent have options to appeal the decisions of a patent office to an appeal board and eventually to a court system if they choose to.


1.1.2         Why do we need a patent system?

A patent system is a unique way of advancing technological progress of the society. The patentee applies a patent, providing the public full disclosure of an invention to obtain exclusive rights of making, using, and selling an invention for the term of the patent. After the patent term expires, the exclusive right expires as well and the public would be able to make and use the invention freely.


1.1.3         An oversimplified history of patents


1.1.4         What are patentable? What are not?



1.1.5         What are the contents of a patent document?

All patent documents contain a title, an abstract, a description, and one or more claims. Most of patent documents also include one or more drawings.


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