HUBER & SCHÜSSLER
   Patentanwälte Patent Attorneys

Patents

 

 

 

Methods

Patent protection can be granted to novel and inventive methods for the manufacture of a product, for performing new tasks or for carrying out new operations.

Examples of methods which can be protected by patents include

a method for the manufacturing of a chemical substance
microbiological processes
a method for the manufacture of a product
a method of manipulating an existing product
an operation on an existing object to reach a new result

The description of the patent must completely disclose the manner in which the method or operation is carried out. In other words, the description must reveal all of steps of the carrying out the method.

Scope of Protection

The scope of protection of a method patent extends to identical or similar methods which fall under the terms of the patent claims. In addition, in Europe, a product which has been produced by the patented method also falls under the scope of the claim.

Patents which only disclose and claim methods have, however, one disadvantage. A competitor can read the instructions on carrying out the method in the patent description and can copy the method. If  no trace or "signature" of the manufacturing method can be found in the final product, then it may be very difficult to prove that the competitor is using the patented method. Access into a competitor's production facility to investigate a possible patent infringement is in some European countries, such as Germany, almost impossible. In other countries, such as France, it may be able to obtain access but only if a judge can be persuaded that there is a high degree of likelihood that the method protected by the patent is being infringed.

The inventor should therefore carefully weigh up the options available and decide whether patent protection is desirable or whether trade secret protection is adequate.

 

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