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What is a Patent...

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by a country's government as a territorial right for a limited period. Patent rights make it illegal for anyone except the owner or someone with the owners permission to make, use, import or sell the invention in the country where the patent was granted.

Patents generally cover products or processes that contain a new functional or technical aspects. They are concerned with how things work, how they are made or what they are made of. 

The benefits of a patent

A patent gives you the ability to take legal action to try to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, and importing your invention without your permission. 

Whilst the existence of a patent may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your invention, it does provides the mandate to take a legal action under civil law should someone decide to exploit your invention without your permission. 

Importantly, a patent is a tangible asset that can be sold, licensed and rented. They provide investors with the confidence to invest in or collaborate with the IP owner, knowing that any investment they make will be underpinned by a legal right 

A patent allows you to

​Sell the invention and all the intellectual property (IP) rights, license the invention to someone else but retain all the IP rights. Discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention. Schemes, rules or methods for performing a mental act; an methods of medical treatment.

Patents cover

Products or processes that contain ‘new’ functional or technical aspects. They are concerned with how things work, how they are made or what they are made of. They cover many different things such as electronics, medicines, agriculture and transport – anything in fact from a small detail in an electric switch to an entire power station.

You can only patent an invention if it is

New – not already known to the public before the date a patent is applied for.

Inventive – not an obvious modification of what is already known.

Capable of industrial application – that is, can be made or used in any kind of industry.

In other words, an invention must make a technical contribution. This means you can’t, for example, patent a business method unless it involves some technical innovation. Inventions relating to computer software may be patentable, but only if they involve something more than just software running on a computer in a technically ordinary way.

You cannot patent

Scientific or mathematical discoveries, theories or methods.

Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works.

Schemes, rules or methods for performing a mental act.

Methods of medical treatment.

Duration of a patent


As long as renewal fees are paid every year, a UK patent has a life of 20 years.

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