A patent gives an inventor the right to prevent anyone from unauthorised selling, marketing or otherwise using his invention or idea for a period of time. This allows the inventor to create, improve or sell his invention without concern that someone else will steal it. Patents do have some limitations.

1

Patents

The three types of patents are design, utility and plant. A patent protects the invention for a number of years prescribed by government regulations. Patents are generally not renewable but may be extended under certain, limited circumstances.

2

Utility Patent

An inventor may apply for a utility patent if the invention is functional or has a utilitarian purpose. A utility patent grants 20 years of protection, although a couple of years are often required for the application process. The patent holder has the right to market the invention or to assign certain rights to other persons or manufacturers.

  • A patent gives an inventor the right to prevent anyone from unauthorised selling, marketing or otherwise using his invention or idea for a period of time.
  • An inventor may apply for a utility patent if the invention is functional or has a utilitarian purpose.
3

Design Patent

A design patent is granted if the creation is one of design rather than function. With a design patent, good from the time of issue, the inventor has total control of the design and has 14 years to bring it to market.

4

Plant Patent

Those who produce new varieties of asexually reproducing plants may apply for a plant patent, which lasts for 20 years from the time of application.

5

Maintenance Fees

To keep a patent in force for the full 20 years, holders of plant and utility patents must pay maintenance fees.