Applying for a Patent
A patent application is a document that discloses the spirit and the technical aspects of the invention and is made up of four parts :
A written description.
Accompanying drawings that correspond with the description.
A list of claims that define the distinctive technical features of the invention.
An abstract’ that provides a summary of the important technical aspects of the invention.
Filing the application with the UK IPO
Once the application has been completed, filing the patent application with the IPO is relatively straight-forward. All that’s required is for Form 1 ‘Request for grant of a patent’ to be completed and forwarded together with the patent application to the UK IPO.
Once the UK IPO receives the application they will respond by issuing a filing receipt which includes the application number and the ‘filing date’ of the application.
Requesting the application to be searched
Within 12 months of the filing the application, a request for the patent application to be searched needs to made. This means the IPO will check the application compiles with formal requirements and will undertake a search of published patents and documents to see whether or not the invention is new and inventive.
Once the IPO have concluded their search, they will issue a search report, highlighting, if any, published patents and documents that are similar to the invention. The search report generally takes approx six months to process.
Shortly after 18 months from the filing date of the application, the IPO will publish the application in the Patents Journal and will list the application on the IPOs public records. At which point the application and all relevant correspondence will be freely available for anyone to view.
Requesting a substantive examination
Within 6 months of the publication of the application, a request for substantive examination needs to be made. This means the IPO will conduct a full and detailed examination of the application to see if it meets the legal requirements.
During the substantive examination process, the IPO will examine the application in detail and make it known what, if anything, needs to amended to the application in order for the application to proceed forward.
Obtaining a grant
If the application meets all the requirements of the patents Act 1977, the IPO will grant the patent and will : publish the grant in the Patent Journal, list the grant on the IPOs public records and will provide a certificate of grant.
A typical patent application can take up to 5 years to grant, however the procedure may be accelerated by paying additional fees. Failure to meet the requirements within the given time limits, can result in the application being terminated.
Maintaining the patent
After a patent has been granted, renewal fees need to be paid each year to keep it in force. Failure to meet the pay the renewal fees within the given time limits, can result in the grant being terminated.
Cost to file Patent
A professionally drafted patent application in the United Kingdom will usually cost between £2,000 and £6,000 depending on its complexity.
Once the UK patent application has been filed, there is a one year period before steps have to be taken to continue in the UK and to seek protection in other countries.
Applications for patent protection in other countries are processed by using the European Patent Convention (EPC) or the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) or applying direct to the country in which you require protection.
European Patent Convention (EPC)
The EPC allows a single patent application to be filed in up to 38 European countries (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom) in one of the three official languages, English, German or French. A patent is then granted in each of the chosen countries according to the countries national law.
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
The PCT allows a single patent application to be filed in 148 countries and streamlines the protection process. It imposes only one set of formalities to comply with instead of multiple national formalities and requires only one international search, publication and examination.
The PCT system comprises of two stages, an international phase and a national or regional phase before designated offices. The international phase consists of filing the international application, an international search, international publication and an international preliminary examination. The decision to grant a patent is made by the national or regional offices during the national phase. The national phase is usually applied at 30 months (some States are 20 months) with translations and fees being payable at this point.