Innovations in all areas of technology.
There are different ways to protect technical ideas. In Sweden, they can be protected as patents or protected as trade secrets. Both require thought and planning. Patents must be applied for and approved. Trade secrets require documentation to be protected.
Which ideas can be covered by a patent?
In Europe, a patent provides protection for the practical design and use of the idea itself, which means it is not only products and machines that can be patented but also procedures, methods and usage areas. In order to be granted a patent, an invention must be novel, consist an inventive step and must be able to be utilized industrially, that is to say the invention must meet the patentability criteria. The idea must differ significantly from the inventions that have been made public before the date of the patent application. The industrial use requirement means certain types of inventions cannot be grounds for a patent.
How exclusive rights to patents arise
Exclusive rights arise only by registration. Generally, exclusive rights to a patent are limited nationally but it is in principle possible to request priority from any patent application anywhere in the world. Priority means that you may make use of the date of application of the first application on all subsequent applications in other states, if they are made within one year from the original date of application.
Different ways of registering a patent
A patent can be registered at one or more of the national patent offices. Patent applications in Sweden are handled by the Swedish Patent and Registration Agency, PRV. It is also possible to apply simultaneously in several states by submitting an international patent application for review by an especially selected patent office. More than 135 States have acceded to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, PCT, that forms the basis for this system. This procedure is financially advantageous even when applying only in a few number of states in comparison to applying nationally in each state. A patent registration may be upheld for a maximum of 20 years from the date of application in most states.
The importance of exclusive rights
In the case of a Swedish product patent, no one other than the patentee may in the course of trade in Sweden manufacture, offer, introduce to the market or use a patented product, or import or possess such a product for any of these purposes. Concerning a patented procedure, the exclusivity covers use of the procedure or under certain circumstances offering of the same in Sweden.
Who has the rights to the invention?
In Sweden, only physical persons may be inventors. The starting point is therefore that the physical inventor has the right to apply for and be granted a patent for the invention. Whoever has been granted the patent for an idea then has exclusive rights to commercialize the invention. A legal entity like a limited company can only become an owner of an invention if the inventor has transferred its rights. If an inventor who is an employee invents something that is patentable and whose use falls into the field of activity of the employer, the employer will be given the right to utilize the invention. In return, the employee is entitled to fair compensation.
Who owns the patent?
If there are several persons or companies who have jointly created or acquired an invention, there may be considerable uncertainty as regards the ownership and disposition of the invention. It is therefore important to regulate such situations in a contract.
Law firm of choice for knowledge-intensive businesses
Gulliksson can assist you in obtaining the best possible protection for your inventions through our unique cooperation with the Ström & Gulliksson patent agency. Further, we have a long and extensive experience of patent proceedings both here in Sweden and internationally. At the same time we can make collaborations with external parties more effective by drafting and reviewing agreements concerning patents.