A patent is a title of industrial property which allows its holder to have a monopoly of exploitation on the patented invention. From a legal point of view, a patent allows its inventor: i) to take legal action if a third party exploits his/her invention without prior authorization; ii) to grant authorization to an operator.
There are four parts to a patent:
- A first page which presents the patent in a synthetic way and includes various administrative elements:
- The name of the applicant - allows the patent to be put into perspective in relation to the applicant's products range.
- The date of grant of the patent - makes it possible to know if the patent has entered the public domain or not, bearing in mind that a patent has a maximum term of 20 years.
- The country(ies) where the patent was filed - this may indicate the importance of the invention. An applicant does not invest in global coverage if the invention is not important.
- A "Description" section that includes the following:
- Context of the invention - it sets the scene for the technical field in which the invention is placed, including a description of the state-of-the-art.
- Technical problem: this section makes it possible to understand the problem that the inventor will try to solve.
- Presentation of the invention: this section is a duplicate of the part presented in the claims.
- Detailed description: this is the presentation and description of the figures. It gives the details necessary for a "skilled person" to produce the invention.
- A "Claims" section which precisely defines the technical elements on which the applicant reserves Industrial Property rights. The first claim is called the main claim. It generally consists of two parts, separated by "consisting of" or "characterized in that" or "comprising". What is before this term is already known; it is the preamble which defines the elements borrowed from the state-of-the-art. What is after this term is the part that characterizes the invention; it is the part that introduces the difference between the invention and the current state-of-the-art. The main claim is the heart of the patent. The other claims, known as secondary claims, are there to give a little more detail to the main claim in the event of litigation, or to serve as a basis for rewriting the wording of the main claim in the event of a deadlock at the time of the examiner's opinion.
- Figures illustrating the technical idea of the patent. They are usually found on the last pages of a patent. They represent a first key for quick arbitration to determine whether or not a patent is relevant to one’s search.