What is a Patent?

If your team is preparing to enter the FLL Global Innovation Award competition, you may never have heard of patents or know very little about them.  We strongly recommend learning the basics about how to patent your idea in your home country so that you can protect your idea before posting it on this website.

A patent is a right, granted by a particular country, giving a person or entity exclusive control over a product or process.  In other words, whoever owns the patent on an invention makes the decisions about how that invention may be used in a country (or countries) where the idea is patented.

Each country sets its own rules about what type of invention can or cannot be patented, but usually it must be a product or process that is new (different enough from everything else out there), useful (it has some practical use, no matter how strange or silly it may seem), and non-obvious (an average person working in the field would not naturally think of it).  During the time when a patent is valid, no one else may make or sell the invention in that country (or countries) without the patent-holder’s permission.Patent_image

Applying for a patent will help to protect your team’s idea.  Having a patent does not mean that your team cannot sell, share, or give away your idea later – it just means that your team has the right to make that decision.