As a general rule, the patent holder has an exclusive right to manufacture, use and import the patented product, method and a product manufactured using the patented method. Furthermore, the exclusive right covers the right to prevent supply and offering of means essentially relating to use of the invention to persons who are not entitled to use the invention or, when such means constitute staple commercial products, inducement to such infringing use. There are certain statutory exceptions to the exclusive right of the patent holder, the most significant of which include the right to use the invention for other than commercial purposes, and, in the event the invention was used commercially at the time of filing of the patent application, the right to continue such use regardless of the granted patent subject to certain conditions (so-called prior use).
A patent is, as a rule, only valid for a period of 20 years from the filing of the application. In order to maintain validity of the patent, annual maintenance fees must be paid. If the fee is not paid, the patent and the exclusive right to use the invention pursuant to the patent expire.
A patent is only valid in the countries in which it has been applied for and granted. If the intention is to apply for a patent also abroad, it should be noted that an application abroad is no longer possible once a Finnish patent has been granted. Accordingly, an application abroad must be filed prior to this. It is advisable to file international applications within one year after filing the Finnish application. Thus, it is still possible to benefit from the priority date, which means that the novelty of the invention will be examined with respect to the filing date of the first application, and subsequent applications in other countries, if applicable, will not prevent granting of the patent. Nevertheless, the application can still be filed during the further following six months, provided the invention has not been made public. After these 18 months, it is not worthwhile to file a new application, as the first application has most likely become public. As regards international patents, see further in [International Patent Applications] and [European Patent Application].
As is the case with other intellectual property rights, the exclusive right of the patent holder expires with respect to products that have been placed on the market by the patent holder or subject to the patent holder’s consent within the European Economic Area.
A court may, in exceptional cases, approve an application for removal of the exclusivity granted by the patent, pursuant to a so-called compulsory license. A compulsory license can be granted in the following cases:
the patent holder has, without acceptable grounds, not used or brought into use the invention within lapse of three years from the granting of the patent and four years from the filing of the application;
utilization of a patented invention is dependent on a patent held by another person;
exploitation of a protected plant variety is dependent on a patent held by another person;
considerable public interest, such as public security or securing medicine or food supply;
subject to special reasons, continuation of professional use at the time of granting the patent (see above regarding prior use, which relates to commercial use at the time of filing the application).
A compulsory license can be granted only to an applicant who is deemed to be able to utilize the invention. A further prerequisite is that the applicant has first attempted to obtain a commercial license to the invention from the patent holder.