A patent is a grant given by the Government of Canada that provides an
inventor with the right to exclude others from making, using or selling
his or her invention for a maximum of 20 years. Patents are only given to
products definable as "inventions". The Canadian Patent Guide describes an
invention according to three criteria
- The invention must be new and meet the test of "novelty," meaning it has not
been anticipated by another patent or publication.
- The invention must be "useful", meaning it must be operative and be something
material. Patents are not granted to scientific principles (E = mc2),
abstract theories (communism), ideas (the earth is round), business
methods, computer programs or medical treatments.
- The invention must show an "inventive step" or a recognizable advance from
Patents are different from trademarks and copyrights. A
trademark is a word, symbol or design used to distinguish one person's or
one company's work from another, much like a signature on a painting. A
copyright is a protection on literary, artistic, dramatic or musical
works. Patents are only granted for the material form of an idea.
Inventions can be a product, a chemical composition, an apparatus or an
improvement on any of those.
In Canada, the first person to file for a patent is
entitled to the patent. That means if two people come up with the same
invention independently, the first person to file for the patent will
receive the exclusive rights to the invention.
According to the
Canadian Patent website, patents are essential to the strength of
modern industrialized nations. The exclusive right to an invention is an
incentive for research and development. A unique and useful invention is
worth a great deal of money and patents provide the incentive to invest
time and money for devising and perfecting new products. Some economists
argue that innovative products, encouraged by patents, are the key to a
Copyright © 2003
Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved