What's a patent?
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A patent is a right conferred by constitutional law to the exclusion of third parties from the exploitation of an invention (in most countries 20 years from filing date).
The patentee may hinder third parties to produce the object of the patent, put it into market, offer it for sale or use to import it for such purposes the object of his invention (see patent act § 22). Private use or the use of an invention as a subject of research is not covered by patent protection. The protection of a patent extends only to the country in which it was granted.
An invention is based on a creative idea to solve a technical problem. In order to be patentable, the invention must be new and susceptible of industrial application and has to include an inventive step.
- An invention is considered as new when it is not already state-of-the-art. State-of-the-art includes everything which has been made available to the public by written or oral description, by use or in any other way.
- To be able to demonstrate an inventive step, the invention has to stand out from the state-of-the-art in a sufficient amount.
What's a utility model?
An utility model is a property right for technical developments, products and processes that have the same level required for a patent. It is therefore often called "small patent".
The utility model is primarily used to have a quick (in approximately 8 months) industrial property right. It is therefore suitable for fast-moving goods or a fast achievable interim protection for inventions that are pended at the same time as a patent.
- Duration of the property right of max. 10 years
- No examination on novelty, inventive step level and industrial applicability
Who owns the rights to patents and utility models?
In principle the rights to the exploitation of any invention belong to the inventor.
Inventions of BOKU-employees usually arise in the context of their research activity based on experience or work at the institute. They are considered as so called job-related inventions. As defined in § 106 of the University Act, inventions which are made at the university as a part of the employment or training relationship with the University, belong to the University itself.
The patent gives the owner (University) the sole right to use and exploitate the patented invention. Through license agreements for the commercial use the invention can be purchased. In return, the university gets a fair share of the economic success. These amounts may be reinvested in new research projects.
PhD students and all other students without an employment are independent inventors - unless agreed otherwise.
Please make sure, that there is an agreement about the share of property rights with people without an employment to the university.
Contracts with third parties (e.g. research collaborations, licensing agreements) have to be approved by the university administration. This ensures that the rights of the university are safe. So there have to be agreements about all inventions, which are a result from the cooperation with third parties, particularly about the patent application, the remuneration, ...