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Basic Patents FAQ

What is a Patent?
A patent is a statutory grant by the government to inventors to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing their invention within the territory of the country granting the patent for a period of twenty years (20) years from the filing date of the patent application.

Who is entitled to a Patent?
Ideally, the patent belongs to the inventor.  In the case of two or more inventors who worked together on a single invention, they shall be entitled to the patent proportionately, meaning, to the extent to which their work pertains.  However, if there are two or more inventors who made the same invention separately, then the first to file rule applies.  This means that the patent over the invention shall be granted to the person who has filed an application at an earlier date.

Inventors are encouraged to file an application for a patent as early as possible in order to be granted the protection of the patent laws of the country granting the patent as well as to facilitate the early transfer of technology to society.

Why is a Patent important for business?  Why file?
For the duration of time that a patent is enforced, the patent holder has the exclusive right to make, use, offer for sale and import his invention.  This means that with the grant of a patent, the patent holder is provided a competitive edge because he can prevent other inventors from the use of his patented technology.  This ability to exclude others from the use and application of patented technology is extremely important especially for businesses that spend substantial funds for research and require patent protection to be given an opportunity to recover their investment through the manufacture and marketing of the invention before any competition arises.

Where should a Patent application be filed?
Patent applications in the Philippines are filed with the Bureau of Patents of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).  The application for a patent once submitted is designated a filing date once the following are sufficiently established: 1) that the application contains a request for a Philippines patent, 2) the name and address of the applicant and, 3) the description and claims of the invention in Filipino or English.

Afterwards, the patent application goes through a rigorous process that includes the classification of the application, publication and the submission within a period of six (6) months after the filing of the application, a further request for a determination of patentablity of the invention.

Is there a Worldwide Patent?
Each country provides different patent laws and protection and the rights granted by a particular patent are applicable and enforceable only within the territory of the country that has granted the patent.  If worldwide protection is sought for an invention, then we are faced with the impractical and costly process of filing an application for the grant of a patent in each and every country since there is no Worldwide Patent available.  Instead, a patent application should be secured in the countries where the applicant will perform substantial business operations and where there are potential competitors who will exploit the invention.  The proper determination of which countries a patent application should be filed will afford the inventor ample protection which he needs to fully utilize his invention.

When is there an Infringement of a Patent?
There is patent infringement when a patented product or a product obtained directly or indirectly from a patented process or the use of a patented process is made, used, offered for sale, sold or imported without the authorization of the patent holder.

What are the remedies of a Patent holder against an Infringer?
When there is an infringement of a patent, the patent holder may file a civil action with the Regional Trial Court claiming damages as well as to enjoin the alleged infringer from further exploiting the patent.  An administrative remedy may also be available to the patent holder depending on the amount of damages being claimed with the Bureau of Legal Affairs of the IPO.  Furthermore, in case the infringement is repeated, the option to file a criminal action is also available to the patent holder.

Can software be patented?
It is provided under Section 22.2 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (Republic Act 8293) that computer software is not patentable.  Instead, copyright protection for computer software is found under Section 172 of the IP Code.