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Patents – what are they and how to legally protect them?

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Over the years here at Advantage Litigation Solutions, we have looked at many claims and counter claims involving patents and patent infringements. With the increasing importance of intellectual property and brand identity in our globalised business world, effective legal protection of a patent is extremely important.

Patents are the best way of protecting your ideas, creativity and commercial advantage against being copied. They effectively provide a legal monopoly over an innovation, and currently last for 20 years. One key aspect of a patent is how well it has been drafted; a patent should be very specific and be constructed in a way that is hard for someone else to design around. This is particularly true for product-based businesses, as a ‘me too’ copycat provider can obtain your product, copy it and – most importantly for them - sell it, thus denying your business its legitimate revenue.

To secure a patent, you don’t need to have a fully finished product, but you will need more than just ‘high-level’ ideas. A vital part of the patent process is secrecy, as you are very likely to be unable to patent a product or idea if your idea or invention has already been disclosed in public. This is a mistake that even the biggest businesses can make, as Apple’s Steve Jobs discovered when he unveiled a new iPhone feature that Apple though was patented, but it hadn’t been, therefore losing the ability to protect their idea.

Taking the secrecy approach even further, it is possible to protect an invention or product by NOT revealing its secrets in a public-domain patent application. The classic example of this is Coca Cola, who over 100 years has never patented their unique formula and therefore has enjoyed far more commercial benefit than had they taken a 20 year patent, which would ultimately be copied exactly worldwide.

Always get appropriate legal advice when considering a patent (or for any other intellectual property matters) and always get a patent specialist lawyer to draft your patents. If you have suffered from patent infringement, our experienced team at Advantage may be able to help – call us on 0800 160 1298 or by email here.

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