Certain patented inventions may require approval from a government agency, such as those regulating consumer products, medical devices or food, before they are allowed to be sold to the public. This period of waiting for approval unfairly cuts into the patent term and lowers the profit an inventor can expect to make. Therefore, patents in this situation may be extended for a further period of up to five more years.
In certain industries it is common for employment contracts to contain a clause that grants the rights to all inventions by the employee to the employer in exchange for compensation. In some cases, the employers will set the compensation beforehand, essentially providing a set bonus for any and all inventions by employees.
An employee invention is an invention that is within the business scope of the employee’s company and made by the employee as part of the duties of his or her job. Under Article 35 of the Patent Act, employers are granted a non-exclusive license to the employee invention. The reasoning behind this is that the employee was working on behalf of the employer when the invention was created and being compensated for that work by the employer, so the employer should also be able to enjoy the benefits of the patent on the invention.
The Patent Act requires that an invention be novel, inventive and “highly advanced” in order to receive a patent. While “highly advanced” may sound like a very high bar for inventions to meet, generally it is considered as less important than the novelty and inventiveness requirements.