A patent is a prohibition right. A patent is a right held by the patent owner to prohibit others from commercially exploiting his or her invention. Commercial exploitation includes the manufacture, sale, use and imports of the patented product or use of the patented process (cf. Patent Act, Section 3).
The patent right is territorially defined, applying in those countries in which the patent was applied for and granted. The right is valid for a limited period of time, generally no more than 20 years from the filing date of the application. The right is only valid if the patent is in force. Annual renewal fees must be paid for the patent to remain in effect.
The patent protects the invention or inventions that are specified in the patent claims. The description of the invention can be used to interpret the claims.
The invention may be for instance a new process, appliance, product or new application of such. One patent application may include claims falling into all these categories, as long as they are based on a single inventive concept.
A product claim protects the product regardless of how it is made or used. A process claim protects both the process specified in it and the product made using it, whether or not the patent contains a product claim. A new use of an existing product may also be patented.
The invention to be patented must be new, and it must be an invention that can be used in industry. When patentability is being assessed, the definition of the claims is compared with what was previously known. The time limit is the filing date (or the priority date). Patentability is determined by all factors that were known before the filing date (cf. Patent Act, Section 2).
In practice, an invention is considered new if a decision on its patent claims has not been delivered anywhere else, either in Finland or in another country.
Industrial applicability essentially means that the invention solves some technical problem or that it is expected to have a technical effect or impact. Section 1 of the Patent Act lists inventions that as such are not regarded as susceptible of industrial application and patentable, even though they may be new and inventive.
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