A patent is a right granted to the owner of an invention to prevent others from commercially exploiting the invention for a certain period. A patent can be granted for an invention that is industrially applicable, new, and significantly different from previous inventions.

A patent is a national law and is only valid in the country where patent protection has been sought and obtained. There is no such thing as a “world patent”, and a patent must be applied for separately in each country.

The purpose of a patent is to protect intellectual or intangible property. Patenting can be part of a company’s business strategy. A patent can protect against competitors and provide a head start. Competitors often must look for alternative solutions to enter the same market. A patent can also be sold or licensed, i.e. usage rights can be granted for the invention.

Despite the patent, anyone can manufacture a product according to the invention for their own use, provided that the product is not used commercially or professionally. Professional use of the invention includes, for example, manufacturing, selling, using, and importing the product, possession, and use of the patented method. A patent is a so-called prohibition right, and the patent holder must monitor patent infringements themselves.

An invention can be applied for both a patent and a utility model in parallel. A utility model may initially be necessary when a registration certificate is quickly needed for infringement situations. A patent application can, on the other hand, be converted into a utility model application when it turns out that the invention is not inventive enough to obtain a patent.

How do you apply for a patent?

A patent application is made in writing to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH). The application must include a description of the invention with possible drawings, a patent claim, and an abstract. The description must be so clear that a professional can use the invention based on it.

The patent application is public in its entirety only 18 months after the application date. The name of the invention and the names of the applicant and the inventor are public information immediately after the application is filed.

A patent must be applied for before the invention is made public. Therefore, the application must be made before the invention is presented, for example, at trade fairs, in articles, presentations, or research reports. Publication means that an unlimited number of people have had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the invention. Granting a patent usually takes years. The patent takes effect retroactively from the application date.

A patent must be applied for separately for abroad

In Finland, a patent can be kept in force for 20 years from the application date, provided that the annual fees for the patent have been paid. A patent is only valid in the country where the patent has been granted. A patent granted in Finland therefore only protects the invention in Finland. If you want to protect your invention with a patent abroad, a patent must be applied for separately in each country. In foreign patenting, it is advisable to use the priority system. In this case, foreign patent applications must be made within 12 months of the date on which the first application was made.

A patent is usually necessary in countries where the invention is intended to be exploited or where competitive activity is expected. Foreign patenting can be handled by applying for a patent directly from each country’s patent office or through the international (PCT) or European (EPC) patent application system. 

Help with patenting questions 

A mere patent application or granted patent does not in itself lead to the exploitation of the invention. The invention is usually not yet a ready product at the patent application stage. Applying for a patent takes time and money. At the application stage, it is advisable to use the expertise of a patent attorney in drafting the patent application.

More information is available from:

Read more about patents on the Finnish Patent and Registration Office’s website and on the following sites: