A patent protects a technical invention, but not a perpetuum mobile.

An (Austrian) patent is a property right granted by the government for a technical invention, which arises through registration with the Austrian Patent Office after official examination, and can be extended yearly through (steadily increasing) fee payments, generally for a protected period of up to 20 years (see the possibility to extend through Supplementary Protection Certificates).

In order for an invention to be protected by a patent, it must be (a) new, (b) compared with the state of the art it is not obvious to an expert in the field, and (c) capable of industrial application.

Patents are generally granted nationally, and, accordingly, are subject to the legal regulations of the respective country; in Austria this is essentially the Austrian Patent Act (PatG). The so-called European patent has its own procedural rules for the granting of a patent, but, in turn, leads to national patent rights. The European Community Patent, on the other hand, leads to a unitary patent.

The patent grants an exclusion right to the patent; thus it allows him to prohibit other persons from using the invention. The patent holder can inter alia prohibit others from manufacturing the object of invention industrially, putting it into circulation, supplying, using or introducing or possessing for these purposes.

In case of breach, the holder of rights may demand, in particular, the cessation of the infringing use, the removal of infringing goods or tools, reasonable compensation or in the case of negligence, damages, each including financial statements, publication of the judgement and information about the origin and distribution channel. The cessation, but also the preserving of evidence (“house search under civil law”) or the ability to pay (“freezing of assets”) can be enforced through a preliminary injunction. An intentional patent infringement is also a criminal offence and punishable by imprisonment.