In the same way that Copyright protects the intellectual property in creative works, patents protect the intellectual property embedded in inventions.
Is software creative work or an invention then?
This is covered a bit later.
An invention might be a physical device, a machine, a process, or a composition of matter. They are the bread and butter of engineers.
Examples of patentable works:
- a type of battery
- a new machine to make batteries
- a new process to dispose of batteries
- or new materials that improve the lifetime of a battery
What makes something patentable?
To be patentable, the invention must be novel, it must be useful, and its creation must have required some ingenuity; in other words, it cannot be something obvious that anyone could have envisioned or produced.
A patentable work can also be an improvement of an existing invention, as long as the improvement is novel, useful, and non-obvious. According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, 90% of patents are for improvements on existing patented inventions.
- The granting of patents goes to the first inventor who files an application - so the way you establish ownership of your inventions is by filing for a patent
- Patent protection starts with the granting of the patent by the patent office and it ends 20 years after the filing of the patent application
Copyright vs. Patent Protection
Unlike copyright protection, patent protection applies only in the country in which an application is filed. Therefore, you must apply for a patent in every country in which you want patent protection.
HOLDING A PATENT GIVES THE INVENTOR TIME-LIMITED, EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TO PRODUCE AND REPRODUCE THEIR INVENTIONS.
For software How does this apply to software? “software is deemed a literary work that is protected by copyright”.
Can you patent software? Currently, very mixed feelings. US courts have devised a test for determining copied software (and Canadian courts use similar tests).