What is a patent?
A patent is a form of legal protection for inventions (patent protection). Although the nature of an invention is not defined in legal acts, an invention can be defined as a technical solution to technical problems. Therefore, discoveries and management or business ideas are not regarded inventions and are not patentable [see Patents Act (hereinafter PA) § 6 Section 2].
A utility model is another form of legal protection for the invention.
Upon the grant of a patent, the proprietor of a patent has exclusive right to use the invention protected by the patent (Exclusive right of proprietor of patent - PA § 15).
The legal philosophical basis for the grant of patent protection is a social agreement: in return for the inventor's input into the general development of science and engineering, the society will give the author of the invention exclusive right to use the invention for a specified term to get profit from it. So the term of the patent is limited.
In the Republic of Estonia, as in most other countries, a patent shall be valid for twenty years (Term of validity of patents - PA § 37).
The state shall protect the exclusive right of the proprietor of a patent - like all property rights - through the administrative agencies (police, executive agencies, customs authorities) by implementing judicial and executive powers (PA § 53).
An invention is granted patent protection upon registration of the invention in the register of patents (PA § 5 Section 2).
A patent application has to be prepared and filed with the Estonian Patent Office for the registration of an invention and grant of patent protection. When determining the patentability of an invention, the Patent Office shall examine if it is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable (Criteria of patentability - PA § 8). Inventions that shall be deemed to meet the criteria of patentability shall be registered in the register of patents (PA § 34). The registration of an invention in the register of patents is deemed to be the issue of a patent. The person who applied for a patent (the applicant) shall automatically become the proprietor of a patent upon the registration of an invention. A letters patent (in Latin litterae patentes) is issued to the proprietor of a patent - a document which certifies the registration and the exclusive right of the proprietor (PA § 36).