Patent protection A patent grants its holder the right to prevent other people from using an invention without the agreement of the patent owner. In return for disclosing the invention, international legislation grants the inventor a monopoly on its exploitation for a maximum period of 20 years in a specific geographic area. Patents can be national, European or international. To register a patent, the invention must: be new: it should not be included in the state of the art involve an inventive step: a person skilled in the field, using the state of the art, should not be able to easily develop the invention have an industrial application: it should be a technical solution to a technical problem. A patent cannot be taken out on: discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods aesthetic creations schemes, principles and methods for performing intellectual activities, playing games or in the field of economic activity as well as computer software presentations of information methods of medical treatment for humans and animals (as opposed to medical products) varieties of vegetables or breeds of animals as well as essentially biological processes for obtaining vegetables or animal species, with the exception of microbiological processes and products obtained from such processes. Before starting the procedure to file a patent application through an intellectual property attorney, you can make a preliminary search of the existing patents in your field of innovation by visiting, for instance, the Espacenet website. Obtaining patent protection Applicants can file a national patent application at the Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of the Economy. Inventors who have filed a patent application in Luxembourg can extend the protection to other Member States of the European Union by exercising the priority right which they hold for 12 months from the date of filing the national patent. Applicants may also submit a European patent application to the European Patent Office, covering up to 40 countries of the European continent. When granted, the European patent will have the same legal force in the designated countries that it covers as a national patent. Lastly, applicants can file an international patent application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT is a worldwide agreement whose aim is to simplify the procedure for filing patent applications. Over 130 countries, including most industrialised countries, are signatories. By means of a single international application, the applicant can request a patent in all signatory countries.