It is estimated that one of our greatest physicists, Albert Einstein, held about 50 patents during his lifetime.
Patents are great ways to ensure that nobody claims your inventions as their work but there are a lot more advantages to patents than preventing someone from copying your inventions.
What is a patent?
In Canada, a patent is a grant by the government that gives you the exclusive right to sell, make, and use your invention for a maximum of 20 years from the date that you file an application for your invention.
What are the criteria for a patent?
You cannot just patent anything your heart desires. Your patent must prove to be useful and original. When you apply for a patent, the patent office will look for these factors:
- Inventiveness: To be patentable, your invention must be a new development or an improvement of an existing technology that would not have been obvious to someone working in your area of specialty. The door lock must add an improvement to the field of door locks;
- Novelty: To be granted a patent, the invention (door lock) must be the first of its kind in the world. The patent office will do a search to see if your patent is indeed a new patent that has never been patented before or if there a patent is already pending for the invention.
- Utility: A valid patent cannot be obtained for something that does not work or that has no useful function. The door lock must work.
Why bother getting a patent?
As already stated above, a patent protects your invention for your exclusive use for a maximum of 20 years. However, that is not the only benefit of obtaining a patent.
Patenting your invention has the following benefits:
- It allows you to attract investors;
- It protects your idea from competitors; and
- You can license or sell your idea to others and reap the profits for yourself.
The main benefit is that you control your patent and you choose what to do with it and that nobody, during the time you have exclusive right to your patent, has the right to use your patent without your permission.
What do I have to do to patent my invention?
You have to fill out an application and include a full description of the invention. This is so that all Canadians can benefit from your invention even though only you have exclusive use for a maximum of 20 years. Patent applications are made public 18 months from:
- The filing date in Canada; or
- The filing date in another country if you request it and satisfy certain conditions (this date is known as the "convention priority date”.
If you are planning to apply for a patent or are wondering if you should or how you can patent an invention you should consult a patent agent or a patent lawyer.
A guide to patents
Demystifying the U.S. and Canadian patent application processes