Patents protect inventions, which can include a manufactured product, a composition such as a chemical formula, a machine, a process, or an improvement to any of the foregoing.
Generally speaking, patents protect functional, utilitarian aspects of devices, compositions or methods. Patent protection is not available for a mere scientific principal, abstract theorem, an idea, or purely aesthetic features.
A Canadian patent provides the owner with the right to prevent others from making, constructing, using or selling the patented invention for the term of the patent. The term of a Canadian patent is up to 20 years from the filing date of the application for the patent. A patent must be obtained in each country where the inventor wants to protect their invention.
The main pre-requisites to obtain a Canadian patent is that the invention must be:
- Novel, meaning that the invention must not have been publicly disclosed anywhere in the world or disclosed in a previously filed Canadian patent application by a third party.
- Non-obvious, meaning that the invention must be inventive from the point of view of a knowledgeable person that is skilled in the designated area.
- Useful, meaning that the invention has a practical purpose and works as intended.
In Canada and the U.S., an applicant has a one-year grace period from public disclosure of an invention by the inventor or the applicant to file a patent application. In many other countries, however, there is no such grace period, and any prior public disclosure of an invention prevents an applicant from obtaining a valid patent for that invention.
Patents are granted on a first-to-file basis. If two people independently come up with the same invention, the right to a patent for the invention lies with the first person to file an application.