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Patents protect inventions. 'Invention' is not a defined term, but it can be a product or a process. Patents generally cover products or processes that contain 'new' functional or technical aspects. They are concerned with how things work, how they are made or what they are made of.

A patent gives the holder of the patent the right to stop competition for the invention for a limited period. The right to stop competition exists only in the country for which a patent has been granted; for example, a UK patent will only enable the owner to stop competition in the UK.

Patent rights make it illegal for anyone except the owner or someone with the owner's permission to make, use, import or sell the invention in the country where the patent was granted.

A UK patent can last for up to 20 years, subject to renewal fees being paid.

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The Desktop Lawyer law guide aims to present the law to you in a comprehensive yet jargon-free and easy-to-read format. Our law guide is constantly kept up to date with changes in business and family law by our team of in house solicitors, and includes information across all the legal jurisdictions in the UK.

Our law guide is free to use. Where we provide documents related to this area of law, or where they may help you with any legal issue in this area, they will be listed to the right of this message.