Patents Explained

Patents protect technological advances.  New or improved products or processes are eligible for patents.  A patent confers upon its holder, for a limited period, the right to exclude others from exploiting (making, using, selling, importing) the patented invention, except with the consent of the owner of the patent.

A patent is a form of 'industrial property', which can be assigned, transferred, licensed or used by the owner.

Patents are territorial and give an exclusive right in the country where the patent has been granted as long as the patent is renewed each year through the payment of a renewal fee,  e.g. an Irish patent is only valid in Ireland (Republic of Ireland only).

If you are seeking protection in other countries outside of Ireland, you can apply for a patent in that country. Alternatively, you can apply to the European Patent Office or use the Patent Co-operation Treaty system.  Find out more about applying for patent protection abroad here.

In order to be granted a patent, an invention must be:

  • New
  • Something that can be made and used in industry including agriculture.
  • Have an inventive step – An invention is considered as involving an inventive step if it is not obvious to a person skilled in that area of technology, having regard to the state of the art.

Patents can be expensive and difficult to obtain.  Before you apply you should check if a patent is the right kind of Intellectual property for your business. 

If you think a patent is right for your business, you should also consider obtaining the services of a patent attorney to prepare your application correctly.

Remember - don’t go public with your invention before you apply.  Public disclosure of an invention before an application for a patent has been made might prejudice the obtaining of a valid patent.