What Is a Patent?
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention that offers a new solution to a technical problem. A patent is granted for inventions relating to a product, process or application.
The patent provides the owner with the exclusive right to make, use, place on the market or sell the invention protected by the patent, for a limited period of time which, as a rule, may not exceed 20 years from the date of filing the patent application. Over time, the patented invention becomes a public good, available to everyone for use.
A patent is a property whose use during the term of patent protection the owner may allow to other persons by granting a license, or may transfer it entirely to other persons.
The essential conditions that an invention must meet for the grant of a patent are novelty in relation to the prior state of the art, inventive step (i.e. non-obviousness to one skilled in that state of the art) and industrial applicability (i.e. practical applicability in the industrial scope).
A patent is acquired by the recognition by the authorised body, as a rule, on the basis of an examination of the patent application describing the invention in the way prescribed by the law. The authorised body may be a national patent office (in the Republic of Croatia, it is the State Intellectual Property Office), but also a regional patent office examining the patent application for several states of a region (for the Republic of Croatia as a member state of the European Patent Organization, it is the European Patent Office). The patent shall be protected according to the territorial principle, i.e. it shall only be valid in the territory of the state or region where granted.
In order to obtain patent protection for his invention, the applicant is required in the patent grant procedure to disclose the technical details of his invention to the extent that it enables the person skilled in the state of the art to make or use the invention. Such a description of the invention becomes, after a certain prescribed period of secrecy, publicly available to all interested parties.
In other words, a patent system is in fact a kind of exchange in which the inventor agrees to disclose to society the details of his invention, in order to allow technological progress, in exchange for the right of exclusive disposal over a period of time.