Patents pertain to the exclusive right, granted by the government, to make use of an invention or process for a specific period of time, usually 14 years to 20 years. Patents are also referred to as the 'Inventors Rights'.
According to the law, only the inventor may apply for patents, with certain exceptions. If a person who is not the inventor should apply for patents, the patents, if it were obtained, would be invalid. The person applying in such a case who falsely states that he/she is the inventor would also be subject to criminal penalties. If the inventor is dead, the application may be made by legal representatives, that is, the administrator or executor of the estate. If the inventor is insane, the application for patents may be made by a guardian. If an inventor refuses to apply for patents or cannot be found, a joint inventor or a person having a proprietary interest in the invention may apply on behalf of the non-signing inventor.
If two or more persons make an invention jointly, they apply for patents as joint inventors. A person who makes a financial contribution is not a joint inventor and cannot be joined in the application as an inventor. It is possible to correct an innocent mistake in erroneously omitting an inventor or in erroneously naming a person as an inventor. Officers and employees of the Patents and Trademark Office are prohibited by law from applying for a patents or acquiring, directly or indirectly, except by inheritance or bequest, any patents or any right or interest in any patents.
Patents enable the inventor to others from making and using the invention for a fixed period of time. After this period has expired the rights to the patents may be used by others to produce or use your invention. Without a registration, it is difficult to prevent others from making and using your invention. Not all inventions can be patented. To be able to patent an invention, it must be new and it must be inventive. An invention tends only to be considered as "new" if it fits the following:
· has not been shown or
· described to the public (whether in a publication, by exhibition or verbally) world-wide prior to filing a patents application.
Selling, getting orders or trying to get orders can also make a patent registration invalid. To ensure that a registration is valid the new inventions must be kept secret. Discussions concerning selling, marketing etc. could also invalidate the registration. Therefore, all the new invention details must be kept secret if you want to obtain valid registration for them in the future.