If we were to take the value of all the gold, silver, and diamonds that are mined in one year, it would not equal the profits that are obtained from patent rights in the same year!
What is a patent? It is an agreement between the government, representing the public, and the inventor. The government agrees that no one but the inventor will be allowed to manufacture, use, or sell his invention for a period of 17 years without the inventor's permission. In return, the inventor files his new discovery in the patent office so that everyone may profit from it when the 17 years are over.
The basic principle for granting patents is based on two questions: "Is the invention useful?" and "Is it new?" This principle is now used all over the word in granting patent rights.
Any person who has invented or discovered a new and useful art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter may obtain a patent for it. This also includes any new or useful improvement.
Application for the patent must be made by the inventor, who is usually guided by patent lawyers or agents. A written description and drawings of the invention, together with an application fee must be submitted to the Patent Office. There are almost a hundred divisions and subdivisions of the office, each covering a different field of invention.
Government patent examiners decide the patentability of the invention. If the examiner refuses a patent, the inventor may seek leave to appeal to the High Court for justice. Once the patent is granted, it becomes the inventor's own property, and he may sell or assign it. The assignment must be recorded in the Patent Office. If anyone disregards a patent, the inventor can force him to stop using it or sue him for the profits made.
The patented article or the package in which it is sold must be marked with its patent number. If it's marked with the word "Patent" when none has been granted, there is a fine to be paid on conviction!
What is the significance of this 17 years? Why not a round figure like 20? I believe there should be some reason.
Utility and plant patents issued since June 8, 1995 expire 20 years from the date of application with the payment of maintenance fees. Utility and plant patents issued prior to June 8, 1995 expire 17 years from the date of issue with the payment of maintenance fees.
Design patents expire 14 years from the date of issue. Patents are not renewable. Under special circumstances, a patent term may be extended. An example would be certain pharmaceuticals.
Copyright protection, however, is valid for 50 years plus the author’s lifetime. A copyright is the exclusive right to profit from how your idea is expressed, whether it is in the form of a manuscript, work of art or computer software program. You don't have to spend any money to copyright something; all you have to do is write the word "copyright" or the copyright symbol © on the written work. But a copyright registration ($35 for most works) provides dated protection if you have to defend your rights in court.
Where do we register for copy right? You don't know who copy your work any way!
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