Definition and History of Patents

– A patent is a type of intellectual property that grants the owner the right to exclude others from using, making, or selling an invention.
– Patent rights are enforced through legal action against infringers.
– The granting procedure, requirements, and scope of protection vary between countries.
– Patent applications must include claims that define the invention’s protection.
– The Venetian Patent Statute of 1474 is considered the first statutory patent system.
– The English patent system evolved to stimulate invention during the Industrial Revolution.
– The Statute of Monopolies (1624) limited the Crown’s power and established patent rights for inventors.
– Important developments in patent law occurred during the 18th century.
– The English legal system influenced patent law in countries with a common law heritage.

Types of Patents

– Patents can cover inventions in various fields, such as biology, business methods, chemicals, and software.
– Some jurisdictions use the term ‘design patents’ for industrial design rights.
– Plant breeders’ rights may be referred to as ‘plant patents’ in certain countries.
– Utility models and Gebrauchsmuster may be called ‘petty patents’ or ‘innovation patents.’
– The term ‘utility patent’ distinguishes primary patents from other types.

Gender Gap in Patents

– Historically, women in the US were excluded from obtaining patents.
– Married women lacked property ownership rights and control over their income.
– This gender gap has affected the representation of women as inventors.
– Efforts are being made to address the gender gap in patent applications.
– Increasing the participation of women in innovation is crucial for diversity and progress.

International Patent Systems

– Patent systems have spread globally as countries adopted their own laws.
– The French patent system was established during the Revolution in 1791.
– Patents were initially granted without examination in France.
– The US implemented its first Patent Act in 1790, promoting progress in useful arts.
– Revisions to patent laws have occurred over time to improve examination processes.

Decline in Patent Applications and Challenges

– Patent applications have been growing for most countries, with jumps in activity due to changes in local laws.
– Spain had a high number of patent families in the 1800s due to superior preservation and cataloguing.
– The US was the leader in patent families filed between 1900 and 1966, then Japan took over, and since 2007 PR China leads.
– Technologically advanced countries like France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, and the UK have seen a decline in the total number of patent families filed since the 1970s-1980s.
– The decline in patent applications is even more pronounced when normalized by population or when considering country of origin instead of filing country.
– Increasing cost of research, overwhelming information, and decreasing value of patents in post-industrial economies are some hypotheses for the decline.
– Patent infringement occurs when a third party makes, uses, or sells a patented invention without authorization.
– Infringement is enforced on a national basis.
– Third parties can challenge the validity of a patent through opposition proceedings or in court.
– Grounds for challenges include lack of patentable subject matter, lack of novelty, obviousness, or fraud during prosecution.Sources: