About patents

What is an invention?

Patent law of most countries refrains from defining what an invention precisely is. Nonetheless, it is common practice in the patent world to consider that an invention is a technical solution to a problem. There is thus a basic requirement that an invention shall have a technical nature.

Hence, patent law often considers that a number of creations are not inventions and are therefore not patentable . In the European Patent Convention for instance, the following are not regarded as inventions :
•  discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods;
•  aesthetic creations;
•  schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and computer programs as such (note : there is extensive case law on these subjects, please consult us);
•  presentations of information.

Which inventions are patentable ?

In order to be patentable, an invention has to meet the conditions required by the patent law of the country/region for which the patent is sought. The basic substantive requirements, which are now quite haronized across the world, are the following :
•  Novelty : requires that the invention has not been made available to the public in any form whatsoever prior to the filing of a patent application
•  Inventive step :  requires that the invention, having regard to the state of the art, is not obvious to a person skilled in the art.

Assessment of these conditions is really a complex matter and we will be glad to advise you in the framework of your specific case.

On top of these two basic conditions, one generally also has to satisfy the following conditions :
•  Industrial application : requires that the invention can be made or used in any kind of industry, including agriculture.
•  Sufficiency of disclosure : requires that the patent application describes the invention sufficiently clearly and completely for a person skilled in the art to be able to carry it out.

Which inventions are not patentable ?

Even though an invention satisfies the above criteria, it might still not be patentable in a few specific cases. In Europe for instance, a patent will not be granted for the following inventions :
•  inventions the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to “ordre public” or morality;
•  plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals; this provision shall not apply to microbiological processes or the products thereof;
•  methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body; this provision shall not apply to products, in particular substances or compositions, for use in any of these methods.

Here also, the assessment of these exceptions is not straightforward and has been the subject matter of a large amount of case law. We will be honoured to advise you on whether or not your invention would fall into one of these exceptions.

Cost aspects

The costs for patent procedures include the following elements:

our professional fees comprising :
•  fixed fees for well defined services (such as for filing a patent application),
•  variable fees for intellectual work (such as drafting a patent application); the amount of these fees depend on the time spent on the case and on the experience and level of specialization of the person in charge.

outlays comprising :
•  official fees which we pay on your behalf to the authorities,
•  foreign agent fees and possible translation cost which we pay on your behalf in case of foreign filings,
•  various administrative costs.

We can of course provide you with cost estimates.

Initial contact in the form of a preliminary meeting of about one hour is free of charge.