A patent is a legal right granted by the state that gives you or your company the exclusive right to exploit a new invention.
Patents can protect your investment in innovation, but you don’t have to have a big idea to get a patent. Small innovations can be just as lucrative as major ideas, and a lot of patents cover smaller developments of earlier concepts.
In exchange for releasing certain details about an invention to the public, by way of a patent specification, a patentee is granted a monopoly right in the inventive concept for a period of up to 20 years.
Why patent your invention?
A patent is a valuable tool with which to protect your business, as it can be enforced to prevent others from manufacturing, importing or marketing your product or invention without permission.
Your chances of obtaining a useful patent are much greater if you use a specialist attorney.
At Sandersons our professional team are able to use their insight and experience to confidently guide you through the process of obtaining and maintaining the protection of your innovation.
The Patent Process
Determine if your idea is patentable
To be patentable in the UK, an invention must be new and be inventive; to be new, the idea you claim must not have been publicly disclosed anywhere in the world either by you or by someone else prior to the date of filing your application to be inventive, the differences between the invention and what is known must not be obvious to a person with knowledge of that field Pre-filing searches can help to assess whether an invention is new before significant finances are committed to the project.
Decide which countries you need protection in
After filing a UK patent application there is a 12-month priority period within which foreign patent applications may be filed. These foreign patent applications may then take the priority of the initial UK filing date. This means that they will be considered as having been filed on the same date as the UK application. The priority period enables the spreading of costs and also allows you to assess the commercial viability of your product before deciding where you wish to seek protection. Build these strategic decisions into your planning and budgeting from the beginning.
Work with a Patent Attorney to prepare a suitable patent specification and application
The patent application process is complicated. Only one in 20 applicants obtain a granted patent without professional help. A patent attorney will use their knowledge and experience to draft the best patent application for your invention.
File your patent application (0 months)
A patent application filed at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) consists of a patent specification; including a detailed description of the invention, claims and drawings (where appropriate). From the date of filing you have “patent pending” status.
Request preliminary examination & search (within 12 months)
Within 12 months of the filing date, in order to continue, it is necessary to file a Request for Preliminary Examination and Search, and pay a search fee. This is when the IPO carry out a search to find any relevant publications which disclose inventions that are identical or similar to yours, and issue a search report.
The patent office publishes application (18 months)
Approximately eighteen months after the UK filing date, the patent application is published.
Request examination of patent application (24 months)
Within six months from publication, to proceed with the application, it is necessary to file a Request for Substantive Examination and pay an examination fee. The application will be allocated to a UK IPO Examiner to review the application.
The patent office examines the application and reports any objections
The IPO Examiner will detail any objections to the application. Objections which may arise include that the invention is not new or is an obvious departure from what is already known.
Respond to objections (prosecution)
At this point, if the Examiner considers that the idea is not patentable, the applicant may choose to instruct a Patent Attorney, and work closely with them to present arguments and/or to amend the application to overcome the objections.
Once objections have been addressed, the patent will be granted or refused (up to 4.5 years after application)
On completion of the prosecution stage, the UK patent application is formally accepted or refused. If accepted, the application is published as a granted UK patent. Typically, this takes place some three to four years after the UK filing date.
Patent term (Reliant on payment of annual renewal fees)
A granted patent can last for a maximum period of 20 years from the filing date. Renewal fees are payable annually after grant, in respect of the fifth year onwards. Renewal fees become payable annually to maintain the granted UK patent in force. If the renew fees are not paid your patent protection will lapse.
Our specialist Patent Prosecution service can support patent application drafting and filing for clients across the UK, Europe and worldwide.
Dr. Andrea Salin, Technical Assistant
Speak to our specialist team
If you would like further advice and information contact one of our attorneys today
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