What is a patent?
A patent is a right granted for a certain territory which forbids a third party from exploiting the invention. In return for this right, the description of the invention is revealed in the patent. This exclusive right, however, is territorial and limited in time. The rights to the invention, once granted, can be maintained for 20 years from the filing date, provided that fees are paid. Pharmaceutical compounds and crop protection compounds can be protected for a maximum of an additional 5 years under certain conditions. (also see "What is a supplementary protection certificate ("SPC")?)