What is a Patent?
Information about patents is available from national Patent Offices, which register grant applications, process them using specified procedures and grant patents. Registered applications go through a lenthy procedure before becoming approved and published. Once published, patents are an intellectual property of the creator(s), and are legally protected.
Patents are particularly relevant if they can be used for commercial purposes or inductrial production.
An example of a patent: registring a procedure for chemical synthesis of compounds that may have therapeutic use; inventions that improve technical characteristics of an engine.
Patents must be original and must be kept confidential to be pantentable. Once the patent is granted they become publically available. Patents have an expiry date and can be renewed for up to 20 years (UK).
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The University of Oxford has a spin-out company called Isis Innovation Limited that can provide advice and further information to researchers thinking about patenting their research.