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Below are questions which are generally asked regarding Intellectual Property law. We have placed them here so as to help people with any queries they may have. If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is a patent ?
What is a trade mark ?
Is an Authorisation/Power of Attorney required ?
Are there any special requirements in relation to recording an assignment at the Irish Patents Office ?
What is a patent ?

A patent provides the patent holder with the right to prevent other people from using his or her invention. In order to be patentable, it is first necessary that the invention is an "invention" within the meaning of the relevant patent law. Thus, for example, in Europe, it cannot be an idea or a scheme or method of playing games, doing business or performing mental acts. Specifically, the invention must be an article or a process or method, which is capable of being made or used in any kind of industry (including agriculture). This is a very broad definition, since it covers most items which are capable of being manufactured in some way, provided that a technical advance is involved.

The two most important requirements, which must be fulfilled for a patent to be granted, are the requirements of novelty and inventive step. For an invention to be novel, it must not have been made available to the public by written or oral description, by use or in any other way prior to the filing of a patent application. It is important to note that novelty is an absolute requirement; even if the inventor only describes his or her invention orally to one other person who is not bound to keep the invention confidential, this will destroy the novelty of the invention. Accordingly, one should be very careful not to disclose his/her invention before a patent application has been filed.

For an invention to involve an inventive step, it must not be obvious to the skilled worker in the technical field to which the invention relates. This question is more difficult to assess than that of novelty, but it generally means that minor modifications of known products or processes are unpatentable, unless an unexpected effect results from such modification.

You should note that the patent literature contains a large number of published inventions, so the fact that a particular item is not available on the market is no guarantee that it is novel and inventive, since somebody else may have previously applied for a patent but, without subsequently commercialising the invention.


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What is a trade mark?

A trade mark is any sign which can distinguish the goods and/or services of one trader from those of another. A sign includes, for example, words, designs, letters, numerals, logos, pictures, or a combination of these. Thus, a trade mark is used so that customers can recognise the product of a particular trader.

To be registrable a trade mark must be distinctive for the goods and/or services covered by the application and not identical or similar to any earlier marks for the same or similar goods or services.

Often prospective applicants will have a pre-filing search carried out to ascertain whether or not there are any earlier marks, which may be an obstacle to them obtaining registration.


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Is an Authorisation/Power of Attorney required?
Please note that an Authorisation of Patent Agent form is required for us to act in patent matters before the Irish Patents Office. An authorisation can be specific or general. A general authorisation obviates the necessity of obtaining a fresh authorisation for each subsequent case for a given proprietor.

An Authorisation of Patent Agent form is most usually required for validating a European patent in Ireland.

An Authorisation is no longer mandatory in design and trade mark matters. However, the Patents Office reserves the right to call for an authorisation in certain circumstances.

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Are there any special requirements in relation to recording an assignment at the Irish Patents Office ?

It is usual to prepare a specific assignment document for the transfer of Irish intellectual property.

Please note that stamp duty is still due on instruments of transfer, such as assignments, executed prior to April 1, 2004.

Where a change of name or assignment is recorded on the European Patent Office Register, after the grant of a European patent, the Irish Patents Office will not accept a copy of EPO Form 2544 as evidence of the change. Rather the change of name and assignment must be separately registered on the Irish Register.

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See also Patent, Trade Mark and Design pages for additional information.

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  Dun Laoghaire,
  Co. Dublin,
  A96 V6P7
  Ireland.

  t: +353-1-668 0094
  f: +353-1-668 0412
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