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Keeping Track of Your Intellectual Property Rights

A patent must be renewed to keep it valid. There may also be changes you wish to make to it.

Making changes to your patent

  • Change of name or address – If you wish to change the name or address on a patent you must fill in Form 20. If ownership of the patent has changed you must fill in Form 21.
  • Appointing a solicitor or contact address – If you wish to appoint a solicitor to help manage your patent you must fill in Form 51.
  • Correcting an error – You can correct an error in a patent before or after it has been granted. You must explain what you want to change and if the patent has already been granted, the reasons behind this.
  • Making an amendment after the patent has been granted – If your patent is being objected you may wish to make an amendment to it. If you are currently in proceedings surrounding the patent you can apply for an amendment under section 75 of the Patents Act 1977. If you wish to make an amendment and are not currently in court proceedings, you can do so under section 27.

Renewing your patent

You must renew your patent after it has been in force for 5 years, in order to keep it valid. This is voluntary and there is a cost involved. A patent can be renewed for 20 years. If you do not renew on time you have five months in which you can do so, there is however a late payment fee of £24 for each late month. Even after six months there is still a chance to reinstate your patent.

Displaying your patent

It can be a good idea to display the fact that you have a patent on your product. It is however not compulsory. By displaying the fact that you have obtained a patent, you may discourage others from using your idea. You can display the fact the product has a patent granted by marking it with ‘patented’. If you have applied for a patent and are waiting for a decision, it is advisable to mark that your product is ‘patent pending’, which again, may help to discourage people from using your idea. In both instances you should also show the patent number and the country in which it was applied for.

It is against the law to claim that a product is patented if it has not been and it can lead to prosecution.

Opinions

If you believe that someone has infringed your patent you can ask for an opinion from the IPO. Information on this process can be found in the disputes section.

Reviews

If you do not agree with an opinion, you can apply for a review. The IPO will go through legal procedures and decide whether to uphold the opinion or to put it aside. They will not act on the result of the proceedings but an individual can take more action by either going through revocation or infringement proceedings.

If the opinion you contest is upheld, you will be liable for all of the other party's legal expenses, which are on average around £1,000.

Certified copies

Certified copies are the original documents which state that your patent has been granted. They will have a signature and a seal. They must be used if you wish to apply for your patent abroad, if you need to supply documents to court and to prove details about your patent.

Certified copies can be purchased from the IPO for £20 which you must send it with a fee form.

Uncertified copies can be used for personal reference and can be found online.

Patent protection abroad

UK patents only give you protection in the United Kingdom. In light of this you should consider whether you wish to extend your patent to other countries. If you wish to sell or license your product abroad then it is advisable to seek a patent in the countries you wish to deal with.

It is possible, in some countries, just to extend your UK patent, which then acquires the same status that it has in the UK. If the country that you wish to take a patent out in does not offer this, you will have to apply to the country’s patent office. You will need certified copies of documents when applying abroad.

There are also two ways in which you can gain wider patents;

  • Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) 
  • European Patent Convention (EPC)

Patent Co-operation Treaty

The patent co-operation treaty allows your idea to be patented in many international countries. You get one document which includes an international search and opinion, after which you have to apply to each country you wish to have a patent in individually.

The benefits of applying this way are that as you only get one initial report, it can save a lot of time and costs.

European Patent Convention

You can use the European patent convention to secure patents in 30 countries around Europe. You only need to complete one application but when it is complete it will become individual patents for the countries which you have specified.