1. Laying the groundwork
In 1873 the Government of the Empire of Austria-Hungary invited other countries to an international exhibition of inventions held at Vienna. However, many inventors declined to exhibit their inventions at that exhibition, due to the inadequate legal protection offered. This led to two notable developments: first, Austria passed a law, securing temporary protections for all foreigners participating in the exhibition for their inventions, trademarks and industrial designs. Second, the Congress of Vienna for Patent Reform was convened later that year. Read more about: Ten facts you didn’t know about the Paris Convention »
A company’s intellectual property is its number one asset. Protecting that property through patents, however, is expensive and doesn’t include certain types of content, including customer lists, which are crucial. A viable alternative is to classify intellectual property as a trade secret. The trade secret designation enjoys protection under US law and the associated costs are significantly lower.
Patents require companies to publicly disclose inventive properties. The protection they provide is also limited in time, Read more about: Trade Secrets vs Patents: Which Approach is Right for You? »
In most of the world, software can’t be patented unless it’s an element within a hardware device or system. The U.S. was a rare exception to this rule until June 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank (Alice) sent software patents straight down the rabbit hole. It’s been more than four years since Alice and the dust still hasn’t settled. In the interim, the confusion has spread to other types of patents. Read more about: The Alice Decision and Its Fallout in the U.S. »
Patent protection is limited by national or regional borders. This means you must file for a new patent or validate your patent in each individual country or region where you wish to protect your invention. Most national patent offices require your application to be submitted in the official national language, or if it’s a regional office like the EPO, then you will have a choice of local languages (e.g. English, French or German). Read more about: How to Reduce Patent Translation Costs During Patent Filing »
In simple terms, patent litigation is the legal process that unfolds when someone who owns the patent for a particular invention enforces their right by suing another for manufacturing or selling the invention without permission. More often than not, this claim is countered by the accused party who will argue that that particular patent should be deemed invalid.
The first-to-file system is now universal and used in all countries, Read more about: What is Patent Litigation? »