Discusses the basic concepts of intellectual property, particularly as applied to patents; explains the monopoly granted to inventors in return for disclosing details of their inventions in applications for patent specifications. Expands on the problems such a system presents to the inventor, with comments on decisions the inventor must take on whether to patent his invention, and if so, where, and how the procedures should be approached. Presents a brief history of patents, with an explanation of what can and what cannot be patented under the Patents Act 1977. Notes arrangements for protection outside the UK ‐ through the European Patent Office, and other countries of the world. Discusses the main factors which affect the information value of patents, and comments on the major patent information tools ‐ printed, CD‐ROM and databases. Concludes with a brief discussion on the growing impact of the Internet and the World Wide Web, suggesting that such developments might increase the use of the valuable information contained in patent documentation.
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