Author: Dr. Jacekas Antulis, an Associated Partner in METIDA, the Head of Patent Division
A patent application is probably the most important step at the beginning of the invention protection creating a possibility for development of the invention idea and commercialisation thereof by monopoly rights. The number of patents is not a fixed dimension, it depends on different circumstances.
On the one hand, patent sophistication increases the number of patents, since the greater number of people who find out about the patent granting possibilities, the higher number of people start considering the ways of applying the patent (monopoly rights) in their own businesses. It is of particular importance for business start-ups. On the other hand, patent sophistication slightly reduces the number of potential patent applications, since when potential inventors gain more knowledge about patenting procedures, patentability criteria, investments and commercialisation of the invention, poor inventions do not get into the patent bureau. Consequently, the number of poor patents which are of low value or have no value at all in commercial terms decreases.
More and more often the patenting path begins from submission of a European patent application (although it is not so frequent and due to various reasons Lithuanians willingly choose the national patenting path as their start-up), therefore, in Lithuania a patent becomes effective as the European patent as opposed to the national patent: this also slightly decreases the number of national applications.
Certain part of potential inventions particularly those concerning formulas are protected as commercial secrets (in the commercial world it is called “know-how”). The practice suggests that it is difficult to defend formulas at court; thus, they are often concealed and not disclosed (for example, as does Coca-Cola). Thus, it is natural that the above phenomenon does not increase the number of patent applications.
Selling out to foreigners
There is an increasing tendency to sell potential inventions to foreigners, since companies, inventors and educational establishments are not capable or do not see any possibilities for introducing the invention in Lithuania. In other words, they do not believe that someone may start commercialisation of the invention in a good faith manner moving towards its patenting path. Furthermore, although universities already have all legal frameworks for patenting, assessing and commercialising inventions, some of them lack infrastructures for implementation of such processes. This especially impedes an increase in the number of patent applications in Lithuania.
Deteriorating standard of living and financial crisis in Lithuania exert adverse effect on the resolution of businessmen to patent national, international or European patents which require great investments. The above factor reduces the number of patent applications.
Financial reasons (post-patenting reasons)
Researchers, companies and natural entities fail to find sources of financing which would help them to commercialise their inventions. This is a particularly significant step towards the success of commercialisation made after patenting; however, in default of conditions necessary for its implementation everything quickly stops. The above factor does not decrease the statistics of the national patent bureau, but reduces the number of issued patents (normally, issue of a patent takes place two years after submission of the application). Financial reasons also influence the number of patent applications filed by the Lithuanians in foreign patent bureaux.
Problem of the attitude
The inventor, the merchant and the jurist imply three different mental systems. An invention may “survive” if all three mental systems are integrated in one man or a group of people. Unfortunately, frequently an inventor is not ready to share his/her invention with others.