Understanding patents

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. It protects the holder’s invention for a period of up to 20 years.


The patent system aims to promote innovation and economic growth

  • By protecting creativity and remunerating the investment that goes into devising a new invention.
  • By publishing and disclosing technical details of new inventions.


It is important to distinguish between the two main roles of the patent system:

  • Patents are territorial rights, so a national patent applies only in the Principality of Monaco, whereas
  • Patent information is disclosed globally and may be used by anyone anywhere in the world.


Patent information includes:

  • Technical information from the description and designs of the invention;
  • Legal information from the claims defining the patent’s scope and legal situation (i.e. validity) in certain countries;
  • Commercial information from the reference data on the holder, filing date, country of origin, etc.


What is patent information used for?

Patent information represents a vast source of technological and legal data. It can help users to:

  • Avoid duplication of research and development work;
  • Evaluate the patentability of inventions;
  • Avoid infringing existing patents;
  • Improve existing products or processes;
  • Estimate the value of patents;
  • Exploit the technologies described in rejected patent applications, patents that are only valid in certain countries or those which are no longer in application;
  • Understand new trends and the future direction of commercial competitors, in order to identify a market niche;
  • Extract, analyse and review the main trends in a specific technological field, to get an idea of the state of the art in that field.