Prior art is another term which is used to refer to patents and publications that are made in a relevant timeframe before the filing date of your patent application for the purpose of understanding the general public knowledge in the field of the invention and to understand any impact on patentability. Prior art is oftentimes also referred to in the context of the knowledge of a reasonable person skilled in the subject area of your invention at the relevant time period.
It is possible in limited circumstances to make a late national phase entry of a PCT application in Canada up to 12 months after the 30 month deadline. Until recently this was accomplished for any applicant simply by requesting reinstatement of the application. As of late October 2019 there is now a requirement to demonstrate nonintentional abandonment in order to take advantage of the 12 month reinstatement timeframe. This change in reinstatement and late national entry practice in 2019 is a substantial alteration of previous Canadian patent practice and patent practitioners and patent applicants should be aware of the change in practice insofar as it might affect their strategies. We can provide further information and definitive advice on this should you have a situation arise in which you need to contemplate a late national entry.
Many countries require the payment of periodic maintenance fees to maintain the validity of your patent applications or patent registrations. In Canada, maintenance fees are payable annually beginning on the second anniversary of the Canadian filing date. These fees themselves, payable to the patent office, range from $50 for a small entity for the first few years upwards through several hundred dollars towards the end of a patent term. We can assist you with the management of ongoing payment of maintenance fees in Canada and abroad.
Patents and patent applications are territorially limited. Your Canadian patent application does not provide protection outside the borders of Canada. A Canadian patent application can be used to form the priority basis for filing in many other international jurisdictions, and there are a number of different international filing strategies which can be employed to streamline an international patent process if broadly-based geographic protection is desired.
Generally speaking if you are going to file for patent protection for an invention you should consider this as soon as possible following the conception of your idea, to avoid any problematic public disclosure of the invention which might have a negative impact on patentability. Patentability is significantly limited in many countries if the invention is disclosed to the public in advance of the filing of a patent application.
There is no requirement to file a patent application on a new idea or invention if you do not wish to do so. However, without a patent you do not have the same statutory ability to monopolize or enforce exclusivity around your idea and stop others from copying it. You should consider early in your ideation process what your patent strategy will be, to avoid early disclosure or early decisions which inhibit your patentability should you later wish to do so.