A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a national government to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of an invention.
The procedure for granting patents, the requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims defining the invention which must be new, non-obvious and useful or industrially applicable.
The patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent, which is usually 20 years from the filing date subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Like any other property right, it may be sold, licensed, mortgaged, assigned or transferred, given away, or simply abandoned.
In order to search patent applications and granted patents, some national or regional patent offices provide free-of charge electronic databases via Internet.
For Example :
France : http://www.inpi.fr/ –
Austria : http://www.patentamt.at/
Spain : http://www.oepm.es
USA : http://www.uspto.gov
Wherever web-based databases are not available, patent information may be consulted on paper, on microfilms or CD-ROMs, at the national or regional patent offices. WIPO Patent Information Services (WPIS) provides free-of-charge services for users in developing countries who wish to obtain technical search results in relation to their inventions.
Here is statistics of WIPO about
Patent applications by patent office : Top 20 offices, 2008
Source : WIPO
More useful and systematized information in tables and graphics.
Patent Cooperation Treaty
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states. A patent application filed under the PCT is called an international application, or PCT application.
A single filing of an international application is made with a Receiving Office (RO) in one language. It then results in a search performed by an International Searching Authority (ISA), accompanied by a written opinion regarding the patentability of the invention, which is the subject of the application. It is optionally followed by a preliminary examination, performed by an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA). Finally, the relevant national or regional authorities administer matters related to the examination of application (if provided by national law) and issuance of patent. The PCT does not provide for the grant of an “international patent”, as such multinational patent does not exist, and the grant of patent is a prerogative of each national or regional authority.