The grant procedure may take several years and it can be expensive, particularly if you have to litigate.
Although patents are national rights, there are various international systems that make things a little more straightforward. One of these is the International patent application system, under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). You dont get an international patentit is still necessary to split off into specific countries of interest down the linebut it is a fairly flexible system and can help to defer costs while you develop your markets and/or your products.
You may have heard some types of technology are not patentable. In fact, this is in a fairly limited set of circumstances. For example, you may think software is not patentable but it is possible to obtain software patents. Well be looking at this in more detail in future. However, to obtain meaningful protection for any invention, it can be crucial that the patent specification is well-written by a skilled patent draftsman and this is especially true for software/computer-related inventions.
You may also think its not possible to obtain patents for business methods, another area well look at in future. It may be possible to obtain a patent for a business method depending on the technology implemented and the country youre trying to obtain the patent in. For instance, patents for business methods are alive and well in Singapore today.
Michael McLaughlin is a patent attorney with at McLaughlin IP in Singapore. His practice extends across all areas of engineering and physical sciences, but has a particular focus on ICT.
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