A patent gives its holder the exclusive right to an invention
A patent is an exclusive right that is granted to a new technological solution (invention) for a specific period. Patents may only be granted for inventions which are new, differ essentially from existing solutions and are susceptible of industrial application. The exclusive right means that parties other than the patent holder may not use the invention without authorisation.
A patent application is specific to a country or a region and a patent only protects the invention in the regions where it is in force. In Finland, national patents are granted by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. The European Patent Office grants European patents with which the applicant can obtain a patent in more than one European country.
The European patent system is being reformed. Under the new system, the applicant may also be granted a European unitary patent covering 26 EU countries. The new system is expected to enter into force in 2017.
The question of who has the right to the invention is fundamental to patents. Even though, as a rule, the inventor has the right to the invention, in employment relationships the right to the invention may also belong to the employer. The Act on the Right in Employee Inventions and the Act on the Right in Inventions made at Higher Education Institutions contain provisions on the rights and obligations of the inventors and employers.
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The utility model has the same purpose as a patent: to protect the invention. It is in many ways similar to a patent and is also known as a petty patent. The term refers to the fact that it is easier to obtain a utility model than a patent.
The inventive step of a utility model is lower than that of a patent and the application procedure is also less complicated. For this reason, the utility model is excellently suited for small companies and for protecting technologies that are only used for short periods.
In Finland, rights to utility models are granted by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. There are also utility model systems in some other countries but the system is not as widespread and international as the patent system.
More information about utility models