Introduction to Intellectual Property
The types of Intellectual Property (IP) includes Patents, Designs, Trademarks, Copyright, Know-how, Confidential Information and Trade secrets.
A patent is a right granted to the owner of an invention that prevents others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without his permission. This right is granted for a limited period of time (generally 20 years from the Date of Filing), in specific territories, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees.
A patentable invention can be a product or a process that gives a new technical solution to a problem. It can also be a new method of doing things, the composition of a new product, or a technical improvement on how certain objects work.
The benefits of registering a patent:
Apart from using the patent to prevent others from exploiting your invention, you can sell the patented invention, license it to third parties for commercial returns, or use the patent as a means to raise investment.
For an invention to be patentable, it must, in general, satisfy three key criteria:
1. New – The invention should not be publicly known in any way, anywhere in the world.
Inventors should keep the invention secret until a patent application has been successfully made. If the idea has already been talked about, advertised or demonstrated, then the novelty of the invention and thus the ability to patent might be compromised.
If the invention needs to be disclosed to a third party before a patent application has been made, this should be done under non-disclosure condition (signed Non-disclosure Agreement in place).
Once a Date of Filing has been obtained for the patent application, the invention can claim a "Patent Pending" status and the applicant can proceed to disclose the invention as indicated in the patent application to interested parties. As part of the application process, the patent application will be published after 18 months and if the statutory requirements are met. Once published, details of the invention will be made available in public.
2. Inventive step – The invention must be something that represents an improvement over any existing product or process that is already available.
The improvement must not be obvious to someone with technical skills or knowledge in the invention’s particular field. If an invention is new yet obvious to a person skilled in the art, the invention would not fulfil the inventive step requirement.
3. Industrial application – The invention must be useful and have some form of practical application.
The invention should be capable of being made or used in some form of industry.
The following are not patentable inventions in Singapore (and most countries):
- Method for the treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy or of a diagnosis practised on the human or animal body.
- An invention that could encourage offensive, immoral or anti-social behaviour, even if it satisfies the key criteria for patents.
Information on IP protection and patents: