Patents prohibit a party’s competitors from producing, selling or using the protected invention. However, the possession of a patent does not automatically confer on the owner the right to produce, sell or use his invention since certain aspects may be covered by third party patents.
In the evolution of a new technology, the first key features of it are often protected by an initial patent, which gives its owner 20 years of protection. During this period, other parties may invent improvements and protect them by filing additional patents. However, these patented improvements may fall within the scope of the original patent. Also, certain characteristics of developments may be protected by other existing patents, sometimes in another technological field (for example, the material, a small part, or the way in which several parts cooperate with each other).
Therefore, it is not because these improvements are patented that the owners of these patents can use them freely. When a patentee wishes to produce, sell or use his invention, he must carry out research to determine whether he has the required freedom to operate.
For more information on this topic, please contact Evelyne Grillelet to GEVERS by phone (+32 2 715 3711) or email (evelyne.g[email protected]). The GEVERS website is accessible at the address www.gevers.eu.
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