Use IP law to protect how things work with a Patent
A patent is a deal between the inventor and the state. When an inventor registers their invention with the state (at the Patent Office) by explaining how it works the inventor will have 20 years exclusive use of their invention.
For a product a patent protects the function, it does not matter what it looks like. Ifa competitor’s product functions in the same way as the inventors patent defines, it will be regarded as an infringement and can be stopped.
A patent can protect products and processes and this can involve software, hardware and machine processes as long as they are all new and involve an inventive step.
The patent must be filed before public disclosure or the patent will be invalid and unenforceable.
We would recommend that you file in the UK first and if protection overseas is needed you can file outside the UK up to 12 months later.
We can file applications in the UK, Europe and the US and have associations with legal firms in territories both in and beyond Europe. The International filing systems we use can significantly reduce the cost of filing overseas.
A patented invention will be protected for 20 years, if you pay the annual renewal fees.
Patents protect all inventions, both big and small. But your budget should be appropriate to the benefit of the patent to your business and this is a calculation that should be made early on in the process.
Patents can be fast tracked so the process time is reduced to less than a year but there are cash flow implications associated with this approach. If the filing of the patent progresses at the standard rate it may take 3 or 4 years, or even longer during which time the innovation would remain patent pending. However, patent applications are published after 18 months.
Patents – The Process
Review & Advice
We are happy to discuss any new invention at a half-hour meeting free of charge to work out whether an invention can be and is worth protecting.
Brief / Search / Report
Before filing a patent application it is important to know what similar products or methods are likely to be cited against your application (particularly if you are working in a field in which you have limited experience or moving into a new field).
A novelty search will find some of the most relevant documents giving a good indication of whether it is worth filing a patent application. This will help us get an idea of the scope of protection you might ultimately get and provide a starting point for preparing the application. It is not definitive search telling you that you will or will not get a patent but it offers a useful indication of likely outcomes and we can weed out unpatentable inventions.
Straight UK filing giving an initial 1 years security
To get the application process started an application can be filed at the UK IPO. The cost of preparing and filing a new UK application to obtain one year’s patent pending protection but not paying any fees or engaging with the UK IPO in the application process, is typically £3000 to 5000 plus VAT.
Straight UK filing as above plus Search and Examination
If you would like your application processed quickly the UK IPO allows you to request search and examination immediately on filing and this costs £600 plus VAT on top of the cost of preparing and filing the application as set out above.
Requesting search and examination immediately is useful firstly to see what the UK IPO makes of the application, if they are likely to grant it this is a useful indicator of likely outcomes at other patent offices.
Secondly, if the application is processed quickly and goes through to grant (which can take less than 12 months) this can be particularly useful if you are looking to attract investment in relation to the invention. By getting the UK patent granted quickly, this proves to potential investors you have a real invention and allows applications in other countries to run along at a slower and more normal rate taking a few years to proceed to grant, thereby spreading the cost over those years.
Thirdly, the sooner a UK patent is granted, the sooner you can claim UK Corporation Tax relief via the Patent Box.
Responding to UK Search & Examination
If Search and Examination are requested on filing an Examination report is likely to be produced around six months later. Generally the Examination report will site prior art documents that the Examiner has found and which may limit the protection you can obtain.
In order to get a patent granted it is necessary to respond to the examination report. We offer a fixed-price response which is often sufficient to get the application through to being granted (assuming the Examiner does not search out more documents). Cost £500 to £2000 plus VAT.
International Patent Protection