Important points to consider
1. Patent before publishing!
Remember that, in order to be patented, the invention must be new in relation to what is generally available on the day the patent application is submitted. This means that patents cannot be granted for published research findings.
A journal article is considered published on its official publication date. Submitting an article for peer review is not regarded as publication. There have, however, been cases where information has been leaked during peer review, which has later hampered a patent application. The general recommendation is therefore to submit a patent application before the article is sent for peer review, or at least before the date on which the article is accepted for publication. You should also make sure that the material submitted is marked as classified.
Publications also include most research applications, which often become public as soon as they are registered, oral presentations at seminars, mass emails, etc. In the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, it is possible to submit a patent application 6-12 months after publication (known as a grace period). However, this is not possible in Europe, and this, together with some legal uncertainty prior to submission of the patent application, means that the grace period should only be used in exceptional cases.
Once a patent application has been submitted, it is fine to publish the information. However, remember not to publish any new information that may have been added after the submission of the application documents.
2. Is the invention new and patentable?
Before you begin your application, it is also important to make sure that the invention is sufficiently different from existing technology and that it really can be patented. The easiest way of finding this out is to search patent databases, for example Espacenet, a worldwide patent database containing over 60 million documents.
You should also consider what the benefits of the invention are, who its users would be and whether you think there is a market for the product.
3. Who is the inventor and who owns the invention?
You should work out who the inventor(s) is/are as early as possible. The inventor is the person who first formulated the idea that forms the basis for the patent application. In a research team there may be several inventors, but there may also be several people who are involved without being an inventor.
Sweden has a law on intellectual property rights of academic staff. This means that lecturers and researchers own the right to their own research results. The person named as the patent applicant, and thus the person who owns the rights to the invention, is therefore never Lund University. Sometimes, research agreements are signed which lay down the rights and obligations of the different parties. These agreements also regulate the right of ownership to the research results.
Detailed documentation is a great help when filling in a patent application, because it is important to supply as much information as possible.
The principle “first to file” means that a patent applies from the day the patent application is submitted. Before March 2013, the “first to invent” principle was applied in the US, which means that a patent applies from the date the invention was created. In order to profit from the time before the patent application was submitted in the US, extensive documentation is required. Therefore, make sure you keep careful notes of your research results.
Contact our patent advisers
We help you find out what is already on the market, and offer advice on the patent application process.
Per Mercke, Patent Adviser
per [dot] mercke [at] innovation [dot] lu [dot] se
Tel: +46 46 222 12 67 or +46 722 101 644
Fredrik Edman, Patent Adviser
fredrik [dot] edman [at] innovation [dot] lu [dot] se
Tel: +46 46-222 12 86 or +46 705 117 355
Patents & IPR
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is a collective name for the legal protection of intellectual and immaterial assets.
A patent is, put simply, the sole right to an invention. Inventions are in turn new, technical solutions to problems.
A patent applies for up to 20 years (for pharmaceuticals 25 years) and in order to be granted patent protection, the idea must be:
- significantly different from previous known technology
- and industrially applicable.
Find out more about patents on the Swedish Patent and Registration Office website.
Find out if you are the only person with your idea by searching patent databases. Here are examples of free search services:
Contact per [dot] mercke [at] innovation [dot] lu [dot] se (Per Mercke) or fredrik [dot] edman [at] innovation [dot] lu [dot] se (Fredrik Edman) for more information on how to use the databases.