Patents for beginners


A patent is a legal right that protects new inventions or discoveries.

It provides the owner with the legal right to stop others from making, using, and/or selling the invention for 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. 

Patents are granted by a government patent office, e.g. PRV in Sweden, or a regional patent office, e.g. the European Patent Office (EPO). This means they are territorial and will only provide protection within the jurisdiction of the office/s that has/have granted the patent.

To obtain a patent, the owner of the invention must file a patent application. Typically, the owner of an invention is the inventor or their employer. In Sweden, we have Professor's privilege which means that Professors and students own their inventions, and this must be taken into account.

A patent application should include a detailed description of the invention, which may include drawings or diagrams relating to the invention. To successfully pass the examination of the relevant patent office, the underlying invention must meet certain requirements:

1. Novelty

The invention must be new and not publicly disclosed before the filing date of the patent application. This means that, if you want to patent your invention, you must not tell anyone about your invention, except in confidence. In Sweden you have to take into account the far-reaching principle of public availability.

2. Inventive step

The invention must involve an ‘inventive’ or ‘non-obvious’ step, i.e. it is not just an obvious modification or combination of something that already exists.

3. Industrial applicability

The invention must be able to be made or used in some kind of industry.


As part of the patent application, the inventor is required to file a description of their invention explaining how the invention works and how it can be repeated. In exchange for sharing this information, once the patent is granted, the inventor then has the exclusive right to stop others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention without their permission.

A patent, however, does not give the owner of the patent an automatic right to use the invention. The owner still needs to take care to avoid infringing other people’s rights. This is called “Freedom to operate”.


There are several key reasons to protect an invention with a patent:

1. It protects you

A patent gives you the right to stop others from using, making and selling your invention without your permission. A patent does this by providing recognised legal protection you can use to fight any unauthorised use or exploitation by others.

2. It protects your commercial advantage

By enabling you to exclude competitors from producing or offering a similar invention, you will be able to create a monopoly over your invention and dictate how your invention is commercialised going forward.

It also allows you to capitalise on your own investments into research and development. This money can then be put back into the business for further R&D projects.

3. It will generate revenue

You can monetise your patent/s in several ways:

  • You can license your patent rights to other parties in return for royalties. This could provide an attractive and highly lucrative new revenue stream.
  • You can sell your patent rights to others for a lump sum.
  • You can use your patent rights to attract potential investors or business partners to progress the development or commercialisation of your invention.

4. It gives you a strategic business asset

Patents are hugely valuable business assets. They can increase your company's overall value. They can attract investment. They can give you leverage during negotiations.

They can also act as a deterrent to third parties from using your invention without your permission.

5. It gives you a reputational asset

Your patent will tell the public how innovative and forward thinking you are. It demonstrates your commitment to innovation. This can be invaluable in terms of establishing the professional and technical reputation you want in your market. This could prove helpful in opening up a myriad of new opportunities for your business.