What is an invention?

What is an invention? 

The act of inventing something, typically a processor device. An invention can be, for example, a product, a process or an apparatus.

To be patentable, it must be new, industrially applicable and involve an inventive step
  • Novelty: The invention must be new, not only in Iceland but world-wide. The invention may not have been publicised in speech or in writing before an application for a patent is filed. 
  • Inventive: The invention must differ essentially from the prior art, i.e. the solution to the problem it resolves may not be obvious to a person skilled in the art.
  • Capable of industrial application: The invention must be of practical economic use, i.e. it must be possible to manufacture and sell it.

What is a patent?

Patents are valid in individual countries for specified periods. They are generally granted by a national patent office such as the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office, or a regional one.  

Patents confer the right to prevent third parties from making, using or selling the invention without the owners' consent.


Why protect a patent?
  • Exclusive rights: Patents provide the exclusive rights which usually allow the owner to use and exploit the invention for twenty years from the date of filing of the patent application.

  • Strong market position: Through these exclusive rights, you are able to prevent others from commercially using your patented invention, thereby reducing competition and establishing yourself in the market as the pre-eminent player.

  • Higher returns on investments: Having invested a considerable amount of money and time in developing innovative products, it is possible, under the umbrella of these exclusive rights, to commercialise the invention, enabling the owner to obtain higher returns on investments.

  • Opportunity to license or sell the invention: If the owner chooses not to exploit the patent himself, it is possible to license or sell the rights to commercialise it to another owner.

  • More negotiating power: If the patent owner is in the process of acquiring the rights to use the patents of another enterprise, through a licensing contract, a patent portfolio will enhance your bargaining power. That is to say, the patents may prove to be of considerable interest to the enterprise with whom you are negotiating and could enter into a cross-licensing arrangement were simply put, the patent rights could be exchanged between your enterprise and the other.

  • Positive image for the enterprise: Business partners, investors and shareholders may perceive patent portfolios as a demonstration of the high level of expertise, specialisation and technological capacity within your company. This may prove useful for raising funds, finding business partners and raising a company's market value.

Protection time 

Patents granted by the Icelandic Intellectual Property Office protect inventions for up to 20 years in Iceland.

Protection cost 

All about fees. Application fees must be paid when applications are filed. Annual renewal fees must be paid on patents if the owner wants them to remain in force. It is up to the owner to pay them on time. 

Patent fees

What can be patented?

Patent protection can be applied to a wide range of inventions such as appliances and mechanical devices. 


A new generator (the technical solution), use of the generator on a bicycle and a method of manufacturing the generator can be patented. 

It´s not possible to patent:
  • utility models can be registered in some countries, to protect technical innovations which might not qualify for a patent
  • copyright protects creative and artistic works such as literary texts, musical compositions and broadcasts against unauthorised copying and certain other uses
  • trademarks are distinctive signs identifying brands of products or services; they may be made up of two- or three-dimensional components such as letters, numbers, words, shapes, logos or pictures, or even sounds
  • designs and models protect a product's visual appearance, i.e. its shape, contours or colour.

The mathematical formula for how a generator produces electricity and a scheme for how to sell the generator can't be patented.