Sociology Index

Patent Law

Patents are issued for four types of inventions such as devices, products, materials, and methods and an invention must be unique and useful for it to be patented. Patent law protects "original inventions and processes" including genetically engineered life forms. The term "patent" originates from the Latin word patere which means "to lay open", meaning make available for public inspection, and the term letters patent, which originally denoted royal decrees granting exclusive rights to certain individuals or businesses.

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to a person for a fixed period of time in exchange for the regulated, public disclosure of certain details of a device, method, process or composition of matter, known as an invention which is new, inventive, and useful or industrially applicable. The grant of patent gives an inventor the right to exclude others from exploiting or   making capital out of the invention for a limited period of time. The first patent was granted by Henry VI in 1449 to a Flemish man a 20 year monopoly on the manufacture of stained glass. The philosophy behind the patent system is to encourage inventions by promoting their protection and helping the inventor capitalize.

The exclusive right granted a patentee is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the claimed invention. A patent is, in effect, a limited property right that the government offers to inventors in exchange for their agreement to share the details of their inventions with the public. Patents are enforced through civil lawsuits.

Typically, the patent owner will seek monetary compensation for past infringement, and will seek an injunction prohibiting the defendant from engaging in future acts of infringement. An important limitation on the ability of a patent owner to successfully assert his or her patent in civil litigation is the accused infringer's right to challenge the validity of that patent. Patent licensing agreements are effectively contracts in which the patent owner (the licensor) agrees not to sue the licensee for infringement of the licensor's patent rights.

Justifications for granting patents:

Patent rights create an incentive for companies to develop workarounds to patented inventions, thereby creating improved or alternative technologies that might not otherwise have been developed. Patents facilitate and encourage disclosure of innovations into the public domain for the common good. When a patent's term has expired, the public record ensures that the patentee's idea is not lost to humanity. Patents incentivize economically efficient research and development. Without patent protection, corporations would be much more conservative about the research and development investments they made, as third parties would be free to exploit any developments.

Books On Patent Law

A Treatise On The Law Of Patents For Useful Inventions: As Enacted And Administered In The United States Of America by George Ticknor Curtis

Download Description

Biotechnological Inventions: Moral Restraints And Patent Law by Oliver Mills

Patent Law For Scientists and Engineers by Avery N. Goldstein.

Electronic and Software Patents: Law and Practice by Steven W. Lundberg (Editor), Stephen C. Durant (Editor), Ann M. Mccrackin (Editor).

Patent Law Essentials : A Concise Guide - by Alan L. Durham.

Principles of Patent Law: Cases and Materials - by Craig Allen Nard, Herbert F. Schwartz, Pauline Newman, Donald S. Chisum (Editor)

International Patent Law: Winning Legal Strategies for Registration, Litigation & Other Intricacies of Patent Law in All Major Markets by Aspatore Books Staff.

Principles Of Patent Law by Roger E. Schechter, John R. Thomas.


A Patent to a Non-human Inventor

Stephen Thaler, a pioneer in the field of AI and programming created “device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience” system that simulates human brainstorming and creates new inventions. DABUS is a particular type of AI, often referred to as “creativity machines” because they are capable of independent and complex functioning. The system has created a food container using fractal geometry without any human help. South Africa has become the first country to grant patent to DABUS, while the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office rejected the application citing their laws only provide for human inventors, not AI.

Prior to DABUS, Thaler built another AI which created novel sheet music, and which he credited with inventing the cross-bristle toothbrush design. He filed a patent for the cross-bristle design, and it was granted — proving AI’s ability to generate truly novel inventions that meet the standards for patents. Thaler decided to list DABUS as the rightful inventor, as the invention was entirely devised by the AI. This was the start of their push for AI to be recognised as inventors the world over.

Rajrathnam V P, Attorney/Advocate and IPR Consultant -