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Patent 101

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

A patent is a form of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years (generally 20 years).

According to patent law, there are three basic requirements for patent.

  1. NovelTo be novel, an invention must be substantially different from anything else that is public knowledge before the date of the application.

  2. Non-obvious (Inventive Step) – A feature of an invention that involves a technical advancement as compared to the existing knowledge or having economic significance or both, and that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in that invention’s particular field.

  3. Useful (Industrial Application) – Your invention must be possible to be actual made or useful in industry.

A good patent must serve business strategy to justify the cost.

Patent is expensive. From first filing to PCT and into national phase (such as US, China, and EU), patent needs 2-5 years to be granted and easily costs your S$ 50K-100K.


There are several characteristics about patent.

  • Patents are territorial rights. In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted, in accordance with the law of that country or region.

  • Patent protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.

  • Once a patent expires, the protection ends, and an invention enters the public domain; that is, anyone can commercially exploit the invention without infringing the patent.

In general, applicants can prepare their patent applications and file them without assistance from a patent attorney. However, given the complexity of patent documents and the legal skills required, such as claim drafting, it is highly advisable to seek legal assistance from a patent attorney/agent when drafting a patent application.

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