Protect innovation

February 01 2011

The secret to the success of the Camozzi Group is the ability to innovate...

The secret to the success of the Camozzi Group is the ability to innovate, i.e. the capacity to transform innovative ideas into products and services that are appreciated by the market. In order to preserve our know-how and the competitive advantage against imitation and abuse, it is however necessary to legally protect our discoveries.

Patents exist to guarantee their holders a limited period, (typically up to 20 years from the date of deposit), of exclusive rights on production, distribution, import and use of the patented product or procedure, in order to  repay the investments made by the company to plan, design and realize such product or procedure, and to acquire a competitive advantage towards competition. Moreover, the patent documentation offers a precise image of the state of the art technology in a specific field and, lays the basis for further development of the proposed technology.
In order for an invention to be patented, it must satisfy four essential requirements: 1) it must be new (it shall not have been made public in any way, regardless of the constraints due to language or location, for example by means of exhibitions, articles, conventions, presentations…), 2) it must be derived from an inventive activity (so it must not be obvious given the specific technology sector), 3) it must have an industrial application and, 4) it must be legitimate.
In Europe and in most countries of the world, patents are published after approximately 18 months from the initial date of deposit (unless required explicitly by the inventor, which can reduce such a period to  90 days). While the 4 basic requirements for the patent are checked, beginning upon the initial deposit date of the patent request, the effects towards third parties are only obtained from the moment at which the request is made accessible to the public, (typically 18 months from initial date of deposit).
The deposit of a patent can take place by means of an Italian, a European or a PCT patent.

Italian patent

In order to obtain the protection of the industrial property rights in a relatively high number of States, it can be sufficient, even in the beginning, to deposit the patent in one single State. In Italy, after approximately 8-10 months from the initial deposit, a patent search report is issued, supporting or opposing the patentability of the invention. Starting from the date of deposit, the applicant has 12 months’ time to extend the patent into other countries, claiming the priority of the date of deposit of the initial request. Once this period has passed, the same patent cannot be deposited with other States.

European Patent

The procedures of requesting and granting a European patent are carried out centrally at the European Patent Office, which has the task of verification of the requirements of patentability. In the case of an initial European deposit, after approximately 6-9 months, the patent search report is issued, after which the phase of examination follows, until the ultimate granting of the patent. Once the European patent is granted, it is necessary to nationalize it in at least one country adhering to the Convention. The European patent grants the holder, in each country where it has been nationalized, the same rights that a national patent would guarantee, had it been granted in that State.
The Convention surrounding the European patent has the intended scope to simplify, make less onerous and strengthen the protection of the inventions in the signatory countries by means of the establishment of a unitary procedure for the granting of patents, (in practice, requiring only one single exam instead of an exam for each country of interest, which could have had different outcomes).

International Patent PCT

The PCT offers the option of depositing one single request for an international patent, that would be valid for all contracting States listed (approximately 90% of the world), without having to register single requests of national patents. It is a kind of “option” on most of the world’s countries that lasts for 30 months from the initial date of deposit (or of priority).
The international deposit of a patent request has the advantage of granting the applicant more time to decide in which signatory State(s) to obtain protection. After approximately 6-9 months from the initial deposit, the report of international search is issued, which offers an indication on the presence of requirements of patentability for the invention. Within 30 months from the date of deposit it is necessary to indicate in which States of the world you want to require the patent (where for each State the relative phase of that particular national exam has to be dealt with, while Europe is considered a single State). After receiving the international search report, you can require, optionally,  the international preliminary exam. This makes it possible to discuss the patentability of the invention with the examiner and eventually make some modifications to the demands, in order to facilitate the subsequent phases of national exams. The final opinion given by the international examiner does not bind the National offices that will be called to issue the patent. It is, however, an influential opinion about the patentability of the invention, making national exams easier in case of a positive opinion.
In all instances, the patents are ultimately issued after some number of years according to the State and the needs of the patent-holder.

Sebastian Bicelli (Camozzi Research Centre)