What are patents? Can I get a patent? What do I need to do? and what’s the benefit? are questions businesses ask when deciding whether to patent their products or inventions.
The patent process can seem expensive, time consuming and complex but this short guide aims to dispel some of the misconceptions. Answering the top 5 questions that we frequently come across, we will help you identify if a patent is for you, or not.
- What is it and why should I get a patent?
- What can I patent?
- How much does it cost to get a patent?
- How long does it take to get a patent?
- How do I apply for a patent?
A patent is the legal right of ownership of an invention lasting up to 20 years from the date of application. You do not need to get a patent to use your own invention however having an active patent can provide protection, preventing others from using your invention without permission and also ensuring that you are not infringing on the rights of any existing patents. There are several offices through which you can make a patent application such as the European Patent Office (EPO), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). In this guide we will outline the process for making a patent application in the UK through the IPO.
Preventing others from benefiting from your design or invention is a major benefit of getting a patent, but patents can also be fundamental in sustaining your business. If competitors cannot copy your idea because of patent protection, you can maintain market share and market position. If you choose to use to get a patent, you can also benefit from increases in cash flow through the Patent Box tax regime.
Despite being valuable to have, unfortunately not all projects or ideas can be patented and there are some restrictions. The IPO have included the following conditions in the application process:
- It must be new – it can’t be something that already exists and in the public domain. If you have a great idea, it’s fundamental that you don’t tell anyone your idea before you submit your application
- It must involve an inventive step – your invention must not be an obvious development of something that is already known
- It must be capable of being made or used in any industry
- It must not fall into the excluded category – which includes works of art, scientific theories, mathematical methods and the presentation of information
Patents have an undeserved reputation for being excessively expensive, however the reality is very different. Depending on the complexity of the invention, the nature and extent to the type of objections raised during the examination stage; they can cost as little as £5,000. Over the years this misconception of the cost has prevented many businesses and individuals from applying for a patent. Considering that the average patent can last up to 20 years the cost is insignificant against the savings available, through the reduction of Corporation Tax with the Patent Box regime.
How long it takes to get a patent granted can depend on the type of application being made and what is being patented, however typically a patent can be granted in as little as 9 months or take as long as 3 to 5 years. There are many ways to shorten your patent application and our team of experts are able to asses the stage of your patenting procedure and the technical nature of your invention to help speed up your application.
How long do patents last in the UK?
After the IPO has granted your patent, published your application and sent you a certificate; it’s up to you how long your patent will last and although subject to an annual renewal, on average a patent can last up to 20 years from the date you filed the application. Most renewals come with fees and there is no exemption here however the advantage is that renewals don’t start until the 4th anniversary of your filing date and only at a fee of £70, slightly increasing every year to £610 in year 20; so that you don’t have to pay out a large sum at the beginning.
There are two ways to submit a patent application, you can choose to make a patent application by yourself directly to the IPO or authorise a patent attorney to act on your behalf. Considering that a patent specification is a legal process it does require specialist skills to ensure that it is filed properly.
What is the patent application process?
Regardless of the route you chose to take, the following is an outline of the process to grant your application.
Step 1: Filing your patent application by providing the following information;
- a written description of your invention
- drawings that illustrate your description
- clear claims – these are precise legal statements which define your invention
- identification of distinctive technical features
- an abstract – summarising all the important technical details of your invention
Once your application has been filed you will receive receipt which includes the date confirming your application.
Step 2: The search
Between month 2 and 12 you or your Intellectual Property (IP) advisor will file form 9A with the IPO and submit the correct fees. This will initiate a preliminary examination or search by the IPO to ensure that your invention is new and inventive.
Step 3: First Publication
The IPO will publish your application.
Step 4: Examination
For this stage either you or your IP attorney will complete and file form 10 along with the additional fees. This will initiate an examination to occur into your claim no later than 6 months after publication. During this period the IPO will inform you or your attorney if there is anything that needs amending and how long you have to respond.
Step 5: Grant
If your application meets all the requirements, your patent will be granted, and the IPO will publish your application in its full and final form.
Step 6: Renewal
Once your patent had been granted, you will need to pay renewal fees every year after the 4th anniversary of your filing date to maintain protection, which can be done for up to a maximum of 20 years.
To patent or not to patent… is this still the question?
Understandably, you may still be unsure whether a patent is the best thing for you. Here are our final findings:
- There is a process to get a patent, but it isn’t as long or expensive as once perceived
- Patents can cost as little as £5,000
- A patent can be granted in as little as 9 months
- Your patent can save you money with Patent Box
If you are considering patenting your idea or invention and are not sure if your product is patentable get in touch with our team of experts today. Similarly, if you have a patent and want to know how to maximise your innovation with Patent Box, speak to one of our team members to see what we can do for you.
What our clients say...
“Revenue generated from these claims helps us to maintain the profitability of the company – as well as keeping the owner happy, which is essential. This then allows us to continue to invest in R&D and develop new products..”Ray Hillhouse General Manager of Morgana Systems
“For a company like mine, working with MPA has made a really positive impact. They have the expertise to take the complexity out of government tax schemes designed to help business invest and grow and the experience to ensure that other related schemes, like R&D tax credits, are combined to maximise the benefit to tp24. With MPA’s help we can use these reliefs with confidence..”Shaun Davis Managing Director at tp24