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The subject of a patent may be any kind of apparatus, substance or method which is susceptible to industrial application.

An allowable patent application includes a description of the subject-matter and draft claim(s) of the invention. It may include drawing(s)/photograph(s) in which the invention is represented. The applicant must be identifiable from the request. Fees have to be paid upon submission or shortly thereafter.

In general, patents are granted each for one single country by the respective national Patent Office. Accordingly, the patent application has to be filed in the country in which the patent is to enter into force. However, some supranational communities of states like the member states of the European Patent Convention have agreed to allow patents to be applied for for all their member states in a combined procedure.

The right to patent is the inventor’s, although this right may be transferred from inventor to applicant by contract, e.g. employment contract. Filing a patent application without the inventor’s consent may be deemed unlawful, and the legitimate owner may prosecute the application on his own (claim for return of property) or may have the Patent Office reject the application.

[Irrespective of any subsequent procedure the patent application is published and the invention will be disclosed 18 months after its (first) filing unless it has been withdrawn before.]

In order for a patent to be granted on the application, it is required that the claimed invention be novel, i.e. has not been published before, and non-obvious. Both requirements are examined by the Patent Offices in a grant procedure which may take between several months and several years to be completed.

After having been granted the patent is in force ex tunc, i.e. it is deemed to have come into force on the filing date. However, even after it has been granted, validity of the patent may be challenged by any third party in an opposition procedure (must be launched shortly after the granting) or in an action of nullity (no time limits for lodging).

The maximum life time of a patent is 20 years beginning from its filing date.

In practically all countries annuities have to be paid for a patent (application), either per year or per two, three etc. years term (updated Feb. 2009).