Biomedical Engineering Reference
Another differentiation between main inventions and relative or dependent
inventions can be identified. The former are those ones reached without a link with
other inventions, even if arising from prior knowledge. Instead derived inventions
take as direct starting point a previous invention.
Dependent inventions can be divided into the following three types:
• Improvement: starting from a previous invention, inventors deine an incremen-
• Transfer: starting from a previous inventive concept, inventors identify a new
use that is an original application in a new technical field;
• Combination: by combining earlier inventions or elements from previous inven-
tions, a new technical solution is found.
Obviously, these inventions must be characterized by an inventive step, in order to
avoid being an implementation variation that does not produce a different and bet-
ter effect of the device or process.
From a legal point of view, there is an important difference between independ-
ent and dependent inventions. By virtue of legal protection, dependent inventions
can be implemented only with the consent of the holder of the previous patent (for
example, a new process for manufacturing a product already covered by the patent
belonging to others).
The industrial patents are divided into two categories:
• patent for industrial invention;
• patent for industrial design, which is again divided into utility models and
The patent for utility model is distinguished from the patent for invention in
that it protects enhancements of existing products, which result in the increased
usefulness of the products themselves, rather than in new solutions to technical
A patent for utility model must protect a concrete object, so that it does not
apply to processes. Compared to a patent for industrial invention, it has a duration
of 10 years from the filing date, divided into two five-year periods, with mainte-
nance fees which can be paid in a lump sum or in two installments, one at the time
of filing and the other at the expiration of the first five-year period.
The patent for design is meant to protect the aesthetical features of any indus-
trial or handicraft item, the whole product or a part thereof, as resulting in par-
ticular from characteristics of the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture and/or
materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation.
Designs may be registered provided that they are new and show an individual
Designs are considered to be identical if their features differ only in trivial