Why obtain a Patent?

Region: Ontario Answer # 293

There are two main reasons why it is a good idea to obtain a patent for your invention.

First, a patent gives you the right to stop others from making, using, or selling your invention. Second, you can use the patent to make a profit by selling it, licensing it, or using it as an asset to negotiate funding. You do not need a patent to make, use, or sell your invention. However, if you are going to make your invention public and want legal protection for your rights as an inventor, you will need a patent. You cannot claim the exclusive rights to an invention merely because you invented it. The law will only provide you with protection for an invention you make public, if you obtain a patent. If you do not have a patent, someone could legally copy your invention and sell it for a profit.


First to file rule

In Canada, the “first to file” rule applies. This means that the first person to file a patent application for an invention will have priority over any later applications filed for the same invention. In other countries, the “first-to-invent” rule is used. The United States changed it’s rule in 2013 to comply with the Canadian first-to-file rule. In Canada, therefore, it is advisable to file a patent application as soon as the invention is finished. It is also extremely important that the application is completed correctly. It is a good idea to hire a registered patent agent to handle your application. If you do not get a patent for your invention before someone else obtains a patent, he or she may be able to prevent you from using your invention.

No public disclosure rule

In most countries, you will not be able to obtain a patent if you made your invention public before you filed an application for a patent. This means that you must not advertise, display, sell to the public or publish your invention until you have filed an application for a patent. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office will “only register a design if it is novel, meaning that the identical or substantially similar design has not been disclosed to the public, in Canada or elsewhere”. In Canada, the only exception to this rule is if the disclosure is made by the inventor or someone who learned of the invention from the inventor, and if the disclosure was made less than one year before the Canadian application for a patent is filed.

Determine if you need to hire a patent agent

You must hire a patent agent if:

  • the application is filed by someone other than the inventor
  • there is more than 1 inventor and the application is not filed jointly by all of the inventors
  • a transfer of the application had been recorded with the office

Click here to find a patent agent from the Canadian College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents.

For help

Filing an application for a patent is a complicated process. For legal advice and assistance, you should contact a patent lawyer or a registered patent agent.

For more information about patents, refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.



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