Patent rights

When is it an exclusive property right?

In order to have an exclusive right over a patentable innovation, it must be included in a claim in the patent and it must be registered with the patent office of the country where exclusivity is sought.

A patent office will register a patent when it is patentable subject matter. For instance, in Europe article 52(1) of the European Patent Convention requires four criteria

  • It must be an invention
  • The invention must be susceptible of industrial application
  • The invention must be novel
  • The invention must involve an inventive step


When does a patent become copyable?



When does a patent become public domain?

When an innovation is described in a public source (and that can be a patent in another country), but when there’s no patent registration in a particular country, then this knowledge is public domain in that particular country. Thus, if an innovation is patented in the United States, but not in Germany, then a German company may use the description in the United States patent to replicate and sell the innovation in Germany.

When a patent that is registered in a country expires, or when the inventor stops paying the patent fees, then it also becomes public domain in that country. Patents usually expire after 20 years.