What is a patent?

A patent is intellectual property that gives you exclusive rights to use your invention for up to 20 years. No one else is allowed to manufacture, sell or import the invention without your permission.

Why do patents exist?

When an invention is patented, it often becomes public so that everyone is able to find out about it. At the same time, the inventor is given exclusive rights to their idea and is able to decide how it will be used.

The purpose of the patent system

The basic idea behind the patent system is to stimulate technological development. A patent gives the inventor temporary exclusive rights in exchange for the state being allowed to publish the invention in places such as databases and the Swedish Patent Gazette. The new technology is made available to everyone, which makes further research and development of the technology possible. Exclusive rights can be used to prevent competitors from plagiarising your product and developing their own instead. This allows you to gain an advantage in the marketplace. 

Your exclusive rights also allow you charge a higher price for your product and it may be easier to find business partners. You can also choose to sell or license your patent so that others are able to manufacture and sell the invention – in other words, there are a large number of opportunities associated with patents.

What is a patent?

A patent is granted for new technological solutions to problems. It is the practical design and usage you are given exclusive rights to. This means that it is not just products but also methods and uses that can be patented. For you to be granted a patent, your invention must fulfil certain requirements.

The invention must:

  • Be new
  • Involve an inventive step. This means that the invention has to differ substantially from the state of the art
  • Be industrially applicable

It is important that you keep your invention secret, at least until you have submitted your patent application; otherwise there is a risk of it not being considered new.

What cannot be patented?

Certain things cannot be patented. Examples of what is not patentable are provided below. However, inventions with a link to these areas may be patentable if the invention has a technological character.

Patents cannot be granted for:

  • A discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method
  • An artistic creation
  • A plan, rule or method for intellectual activity, for games or for business activity
  • A computer program or a presentation of information
  • A method of surgical or therapeutic treatment or of diagnosis that is to be performed on humans or animals.

Read more about what cannot be patented

Explore your options

Before applying for a patent, it is a good idea to first explore whether it is possible to apply for a patent for your invention.
If your idea is already known, or actually protected, it is no use trying to patent it. Thus, a simple preliminary investigation gives you the opportunity to stop or change the direction of your development work before it is too late.