A patent act is a law governing a nation's handling of patents, trademarks, and other industry and inventor protections. Most nations have laws providing guidance for patent procedures, as well as maintaining a patent and trademark office to handle both foreign and domestic applications. These laws can vary, and people with concerns about asserting international patents need to work with an attorney who has special training in a given nation's handling of patents and related matters.
The patent act usually describes the types of things people can patent, the standards applications must meet, the application and approval process, and the length of coverage and protection available under the law. The law may also establish an agency for handling these matters and create a framework for the structure of the organization, including determining who heads it and how to organize individual departments within the office.
Many nations have several patent acts on the book, including early original laws, revisions to those laws, and new legislation to address circumstances not originally foreseen. People may need to review several legal documents in a patent act to find the relevant information for an application. In the process of revising and developing new laws, lawmakers work with inventors, companies, patent examiners, and other interested parties to develop effective and appropriate changes to the patent system.
Information about the patent act or acts a country currently uses is available through government offices. People can read through the laws if they want to know more about specific situations or need to appeal a rejected application. Patent attorneys have special training in this area and are familiar with the law, all revisions and updates, and any loopholes people may be able to utilize. Most large law firms offering patent assistance also have relationships with international firms and can refer their clients for help if they need to file for overseas patent protection.
People doing business, starting employment contracts, and working on projects in foreign countries should make sure they are aware of the patent act relevant to their situations. Laws can vary and the process may be quite different between nations. Someone with familiarity in the United States, for example, could run into trouble in Australia and may file an application incorrectly, miss key deadlines, or experience other problems with a patent application. It is also advisable for people producing creative or inventive work to review contracts carefully to make sure they understand their rights with respect to any material they create for their employers.