Every invention begins with an idea but only an invention is patentable. An idea becomes an invention when an inventor figures out how to make his invention work and put it into some physical form. Filing for patents can help businesses and individuals protect their inventions, and prevent third parties from exploiting the invention for their own gains. In Canada, patents provide protection for up to 20 years.
To obtain a patent in Canada, a patent application must be filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Prior to filing an application, it may be beneficial to perform a patent search to determine whether or not other people have filed patents for similar inventions. A patent search may help an inventor identify what makes their invention unique to other patented inventions. Filing a patent application is not a guarantee that you are entitled to protection. Rights are enforceable only after issuance of a patent.
The Patent Act and the Patent Rules determine the application process in Canada. Four main categories must be met for your idea, or invention, to be granted. These four criteria include:
- Patentable subject matter
We will expand on what each of these criteria means to get a better understanding of how the process of patents in Canada works.
Patentable Subject Matter
The first criteria, patentable subject matter, set out what is considered to be protectable by a patent. Inventions must be a process, manufacture, machine, art or compositions of matter, or improvements of these. There are also a number of things that are not considered patentable, including medical treatments, higher lifeforms and software. While medical treatments are not patentable, diagnosing methods can be. Other examples of what cannot be patented in Canada include scientific principles, theorems and energy (e.g. electric current, electromagnets).
In Part 2 of our blog, we will outline the details of the other 3 criteria used for granting or rejecting patents, be sure to keep an eye out. For more information about filing a patent in Canada or to book a free consultation, click here.