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Patent Process

Patent ProcessA 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

  1. The invention must be new and meet the test of "novelty," meaning it has not been anticipated by another patent or publication.
  2. 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.
  3. The invention must show an "inventive step" or a recognizable advance from previous inventions.

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 successful economy.

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