What is a patent?

A patent is an agreement with a government granting a person or organization ownership of an invention, which is a product or a process, for a designated period of time within that country. This protection excludes others from making, using or selling an invention. Most industrialized countries award patents, but they do not recognize patents from other countries.

The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.

What can you patent?

In order to be patentable, your invention must show novelty, utility, and ingenuity.

  • Novelty: To be granted a patent, you must be the original inventor of your door lock (or the assignee of the inventor), and the door lock must be the first of its kind in the world.
  • Utility: A valid patent cannot be obtained for something that does not work, or that has no useful function. If your door lock doesn't work, it will fail the utility test.
  • Ingenuity: To be patentable, your invention must be a development or an improvement of an existing technology that would not have been obvious beforehand to a person of ordinary skill in the technology involved. Your door lock must make other designers in the field say, "Why didn't I think of that"?


For more information, consult the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's (CIPO) Guide to Patents or the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Patent FAQs.

Types of patents

Utility patents for any process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement. This type of patent protects the way an item is used or works (protects inventions).

Design patents for new, original, ornamental design of manufactured article. This type of patent protects the appearance of an item.

Plant patents for asexually reproduced, distinct, new plant variety.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Need help? Contact your librarian

Innovation Support Services (ISS)

Want to patent your new research discovery, invention or technology?

Innovation Support Services (ISS) works with researchers to evaluate uOttawa innovations for patentability and commercial potential. Visit their website for more information.

Contact information:

Innovation Support Services (ISS)

800 King Edward Avenue
SITE Building, Room 3042

Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 6N5 Canada

Tel: 613-562-5399
Fax: 613-562-5336


Copyright Office

Consult the Copyright Office's website to learn more about copyright and other forms of intellectual property.

Related Research Guides