An invention described in a patent application can be granted a patent if the invention is novel. In addition, it needs to be industrially applicable as well as sufficiently inventive in comparison with earlier inventions. The invention must not be presented publicly before submitting the patent application, so that the invention will not lose its novelty. Moreover, the invention must not be described in any publication by anyone in any language in any country.
Preparing the application is an essential stage of the patent application process. The purpose of the application is to describe the invention and its uses as comprehensively as possible. The desired scope of the patent is described in writing through what are known as claims.
After the application is submitted, the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland will carry out a novelty examination. This examination will provide a valuable overview of the application’s possibilities of success. If the novelty examination results in no inventions that resemble the invention relatively closely, the invention has a good probability of being granted a patent. The results of the novelty examination usually become available six to ten months after the application is submitted.
The next stage of the process is known as a technical examination. In this stage, an engineer of the National Board of Patents and Registration examines the novelty and inventiveness of the invention in more detail. As a result, the Board will grant a patent for the invention, unless the examiner discovers a definite obstacle. The processing time is usually three to five years from filing the application.
The granting of a patent is followed by a nine-month opposition period. It is advisable for a company to monitor patents granted to major competitors. This ensures sufficient time for filing an opposition if the scope of a patent appears to be unnecessarily broad and possibly detrimental to the company’s business.
A patent can be valid for a maximum of 20 years from the date of filing the application. Patents must be maintained by paying annual fees known as renewal fees.