What is a patent?
A patent is an exclusive right that provides you the right to prohibit others from utilising your invention commercially.
Commercial utilisation means for example manufacturing, selling, using, or importing a product. Patents protect intellectual property in the same way as fences, locks and insurances protect your material property. However, a patent does not automatically give the owner the right to utilise the invention commercially, as the owner may need permits granted by other authorities or by owners of other patents. You can sell your patent or license someone to commercially utilise the patented invention.
For how long?
A patent is in force in the countries where it has been applied for and granted. In Finland, patents are granted by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH). The European Patent Office (EPO) also has the right to grant European patents that are valid in Finland. The patent is in force for a limited period of time, usually no longer than for 20 years from the filing date of the application. To keep a patent in force, you have to pay annual fees.
Patents are a way to make inventions public. A patent is an exchange between the inventor and society: you disclose your invention to a patent authority and agree that it is made public after a period of time, normally 18 months from filing the application (the filing date). Provided the invention meets the legal requirements, you will be given the exclusive right to the invention for a certain period of time.