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Creating a Patent

A patent is a way of acquiring exclusive rights to an invention or idea.

When to patent

To qualify for a patent your idea must be original and be able to be produced. You cannot patent the following:

  • scientific or mathematical discoveries, theories or methods
  • any kind of artistic work
  • methods for playing a game or doing business
  • a way something is presented
  • animals or plants
  • medical treatment or methods of diagnosis
  • anything which is against public policy or morality.

If you do not apply for a patent, the only way of protecting your idea is by keeping it a secret, which can be dangerous if it is easy to reproduce.

Benefits of patents

A patent protects the way in which your invention works, what it does, how it does it and what it’s made from. Once a patent has been put in place, no one can use your idea without your permission. If someone does attempt to copy your idea, you have the right to take legal action.

A patent gives you the right to sell the invention along with the IP rights, and to license the invention while retaining the IP rights or go into business with others to sell the invention.

Your patent will be published after 18 months and will be available for the public to research.

Applying for a patent

Before you apply

Before applying for a patent you should consider the following factors.

  • Is a patent the right form of protection for your product?
  • Does it fit the requirements for a patent
  • Do you own the invention?
  • Do you need a patent abroad? A UK patent will only cover your product in the UK, if you need wider protection.

What does it cost?

Its costs GBP £230 - £280 for a UK patent. It is cheaper to do the process online.

How to apply for a patent

You can apply for a patent either by post or online. Your application will need to include a full description of your invention and a set of claims. Claims set out in words what you invention is intended to do and set out all the technical features of your invention and how these differentiate your invention to others already on the market. You will also need to include an abstract summarising the technical features of your invention and a Form 1.

Once your application has been received you will be sent a receipt detailing when your application was received.

Your application will then be checked to ensure that it meets the requirements for a patent. A security check will also be undertaken to ensure that what is being put forward for patent is not a threat to the public or national security. You will also be informed of what you need to do from then on.

If your application is successful details will be published in Intellectual Property journals and your name and address will feature in their published application. If you don’t wish your home address to be published you should use a different address when you submit your application. After your application has been published you have six months in which to apply for a substantive examination, which is needed for your application to proceed. Once your application has been assessed, if you are successful your patent will be granted and it will be published in full. If you are unsuccessful you can contest the decision.

How long will it take?

Applying for a patent is a lengthy process and can take up to four and a half years to complete. There are however several ways in which you can speed up the process. If you can explain why you need your application to be put through quickly you may qualify for one or all of the following;

  • Combined search and examination – This will get your application off to a quick start as opposed to completing a search and examination separately they will be combined and one report will be produced.
  • Accelerated search and examination – If you can give valid reasons as to why you need a fast search and examination, the time it takes to carry out these processes can be halved from four months to two.
  • Early publication – If you request your application to be published early it is possible to reduce the time from eighteen months to six weeks after they receive your application. This can speed up the process as it is not possible to continue with an application unless it has been published for at least three months.