What is a patent?

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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, in effect e.g. an Irish patent is only valid in Ireland.

How long does a patent last?

Irish patents, in common with most jurisdictions, have a maximum life span of twenty years. Ireland also offers a "short-term" patent, valid for a maximum of ten years. To maintain a patent in force, annual renewal fees must be paid each year from the third year.

Patent pending

This is a term often used on products to alert competitors that an application has been made to protect the invention.