Patents in simple terms

Definition of Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property as it is very much evident from the term itself it deals with the property created through one's intellect. Intellectual Property Rights are the monopoly assigned by the Government to the designated owner of the respective intellectual property right.World Intellectual Property Organization defines Intellectual Property as follows "Intellectual Property(IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce." Intellectual Property is an example of intangible or incorporeal property. Intangible or incorporeal property does not have a physical substance as oppose to tangible or corporeal property (such as land, building etc).

Types of Intellectual Property

The different types of Intellectual Property rights are granted over inventions and discoveries, symbols, designs. artistic works such as innovative works in the field of music, literature and other artistic work etc. To cover this vast area of intellectual property different types of intellectual property rights are granted. Trademarks, copyright, patents, industrial design rights, trade secretes are different kinds of intellectual property rights.


The word patent has derived its origin from the word "Letters Patent". The term "Letters Patent" means the open letters, as oppose to closed letters, under The Great Seal of The King of England addressed to his subjects at large. By and through these letters The King used to confer certain rights on the subjects at large.


Patent is a kind of intellectual property right which is granted by the sovereign for a specified period of time 20 years to the inventor of the said work in respect of which a patent has been granted. These time bound monopoly rights are granted to an inventor on uncovering of his invention and the working idea behind it. These monopolies allow no one but the inventor, the patent holder to make, use, offer to sale, or import the invention. The patent holder like any other tangible property rights can transfer his rights on the said property by way of sell, assign, lease.

There are several different purposes and/or aim to grant the patent the major and primary aim of patent is to maintain equilibrium between public good and interests of the inventor. Therefore while the invention is in the private domain the patent holder can use it for accomplishing his own interest. As soon as it ends and it goes to the public domain the invention can be used for the good of the public at large. To get a strong protection like patent the invention (i.e the subject of the patent) unveiled has to be

  • useful,
  • novel, and
  • non-obvious.

Public and Private Domain

As mentioned earlier patent is monopoly conferred for a period limited by time i.e 20 years, private domain. During the said term at of and/or subsistence private domain of the inventor, patent holder is the only person who enjoys all rights in relation to the said intellectual property over which patent has been granted by the sovereign.As soon as the said period is expired the work falls under the area of public domain, so that the public at large can use it without getting the permission to do so from the patent holder. At the said period of time of private domain the patent holder even enjoys all the implementations of the said invention.
"Works in the public domain are those whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable."- Wikipedia.

Construction of a patent

A patent document is a huge document full of technical terms, difficult phrases, legal words, and big legalese sentences for simple sentences for simple words (please go through the definition of computer in any patent document for the real life experience). The patent document has a particular format and/pattern. Each patent document can be broadly divided into the following parts:

  • Face of the Patent
  • Body of the Patent
  • Claims of the Patent

We will be looking at each of these parts in the future blog posts.

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