Obtaining the rights to a patent, with its accompanying monopoly rights, is considered to be a privilege
that is bestowed by society in return for certain benefits (such as the invention’s disclosure and
opportunity to publish details of the invention and its technology). Consequently the various
regulations and requirements associated with filing and prosecuting a patent application are
The patent application is expected to conform to a standard format, and to supply specific
information regarding the inventor, the applicant and the state of the technology known to
the public (the ‘prior art’). The disclosure of the invention must be sufficiently detailed
to instruct a person skilled in the technology how to reproduce the invention.
Apart from a few specific exceptions, most patent applications are required to state one or
more specific claims to the scope of the invention. These claims simultaneously define both
the invention that the patent office will examine and the commercial monopoly that will be
awarded if the patent is granted.
In most jurisdictions the patent application will be published 18 months after the priority
date. The priority date is either the date of filing, or a date up to 12 months earlier which
is recognised as being the filing date of a patent application cited as a priority document:
an earlier, related application filed in a recognised patent office by the sameapplicant.