What is a patent?
An official document conferring a sole right/privilege or license to an inventor for a limited period, in Zimbabwe 20 years. The official document is specifically called Letters Patent. It is different from the invention itself.
What is an invention?
“……….. Any new and useful art, whether producing a physical effect or not, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter which is not obvious or any new and useful improvement thereof which is not obvious, capable of being used or applied in trade or industry and includes an alleged invention”
How to make an application
FORM OF COMPLETE SPECIFICATION
- Fully describes the invention and the manner in which it is to be performed.
- Discloses the best mode of performing the invention, the address for service, full postal, residential and business address.
- States that the inventor owns the invention in respect of a particular territory.
- Mentions a convention country, number and date of such application.
- Carries a claims page defining the subject matter for which protection is sought.
- The claim (s) must relate to a single invention, be clear and fairly based on the matter disclosed in the specification.
SCOPE OF PROTECTION
A Patent confers to the patentees full power, sole privileges and authority to make, use, exercise and vend the invention for their economic benefit.
Patents need renewal after every year from the 3rd anniversary up to 20 years.
PROCEDURE FOR PATENT APPLICATION
- Form P1 & Complete Specification (P5
- Examination in terms of the Patent Law.
- Notification of Applicant to advertise Patent in Patents & Trademarks Journal at a prescribed fee in Form PV.8.
- Opposition (if any) of the Patent by third parties occurs within three months from date of publication.
- No opposition Patent is issued.
MANAGEMENT OF RIGHTS
Come in four forms:
Transfer, Licensing, Individual exploitation, Compulsory Licenses.
What can be patented?
- Must be useful (practically) .
- Must be new– must have some new characteristic which is not known in the body of existing knowledge in its technical field (prior art).
- Must show an inventive step which could not be deduced by a person with average knowledge of the technical field.
- The subject matter must be accepted as patentable under the national patent law.
What cannot be patented?
- Scientific theories.
- Mathematical methods.
- Plant or animal varieties.
- Discoveries of natural substances.
- Commercial / business methods. (ways of doing business)
- Methods for medical treatment (as opposed to medical products).
- Frivolous applications– those against established natural laws.
- Applications contrary to law e.g. firearms.
- Substances used as food or medicine.
- Defense purpose inventions.
- Secret knowledge.
- Process of human production.
- Disclosed/lapsed inventions.
PATENT OWNER’S RIGHTS?
- Decides who may or may not exploit the protected invention.
- Permits/licenses others to use the invention on mutually agreed terms.
- The inventor can sell the invention outright.
- These rights expire when the invention enters the public domain that is the public can now exploit the invention without authorization.