For every entrepreneur or inventor, there is always a conflict between the need to quickly bring a product to market, before its distinctive selling feature is lost, and the time-consuming process of applying to get a patent.
If you’re going to be successful, you have to defend your ideas.
The costs of obtaining and maintaining even a small number of patients may be prohibitive for a small firm thus it is critical that small enterprises be well-versed in the procedures to follow to do so efficiently.
#1 – Get professional advice
Having a patent is an asset that may be quite lucrative. However, even slight faults in your application might result in the patent being denied or having a considerably lower economic worth because of its commercial value. To fix these faults may be impossible or very complex.
For private guidance on the legal requirements for a patent and business concerns, you should consult with a patent lawyer. As a result of their expertise can help determine whether or not your innovation is likely to be given patent protection as a result of their expertise. If you decide to continue, they can construct your application so that it has the best chance of success. In addition to assisting you in dealing with the patent office, they can also assist you in finding expert agents outside the UK who can assist you in applying for patents in other countries.
Obtaining a UK patent may be challenging, but the following hints might make the process easier.
Unless otherwise noted, nothing in this material should be taken as legal advice.
#2 – Keep your idea secret
Use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to disclose information about your innovation with another firm and make it clear to staff that doing so is strictly banned (e.g. a supplier or potential investor).
If your idea has already been made accessible to the public, such as via the sale of products using your invention, it is doubtful that you will be eligible for a UK patent.
#3 – Determine that applying for a patent is the right thing to do
It may be difficult and costly to get a patent even when you undertake most of the work yourself. If you want to utilise a patent to prevent others from duplicating your innovation, you’ll need to be ready to enforce your patent, which may take time and be expensive after you’ve obtained it.
Patents may be a strong and valuable asset, on the other hand. You may protect your idea by registering it with the Patent Office, reaping the rewards of licencing money, attracting investors, and minimising your tax burden.
Your business strategy should consider both the expenses and rewards of your new venture.
#4 – Check no-one has beaten you to it
In technical publications, product literature, and prior patents, look for anything that could have previously disclosed your innovation (or published patent applications). When it comes to inventing anything new, you can’t patent a product that has previously been on the market. To be eligible for a patent, innovation must also include an “inventive step,” which means that a simple tweak to an existing solution is unlikely to qualify.
#5 – Prepare your application: describe your invention
Different criteria of patent law need a certain writing style for patent applications. Furthermore, the inventors must explain the innovation in enough detail so that someone else may implement it. Figures are very useful for demonstrating the invention’s many features. You may learn a lot about how patents are written by looking at other patents that have been issued in your field.
You should add any alternatives (such as various materials that may be utilised) and make it obvious whether some variations function better than others.
The specifics of the protection sought are laid forth in a series of numbered words in a claim. Unnecessary or optional details should be omitted in favour of a more generalised statement. It is possible to have a tighter fallback position with subsequent claims (dependant).
#6 – File your application
The UK Patent Office allows you to submit your application online.
In addition, the UK Patent Office provides a useful guide that covers the prerequisites for a patentable invention and the specifics of filing for a UK patent, such as the costs involved.
#7 – Get it granted
Following an initial search (to discover any relevant previous art) and an assessment by the patent office, a patent may be issued as long as there are no obvious infringers (to assess your invention in light of the prior art). During the examination, exchanging correspondence with the patent office to alter or support your application is permitted.
You may request and pay for both of these when you submit your patent application if you need it quickly.
It is possible to postpone paying for these steps if you aren’t in a rush and don’t want to spend any money at this time. Within one year after the initial filing date, an application that has been abandoned (e.g. because fees have not been paid) may nevertheless be utilised as a “priority” application for subsequent filings (see the next step).
#8 – Strategic filing
Applying for patents in more countries may be a good idea if your company plans to expand into those markets or you want to prevent your rivals from doing so. Each national patent office may need the services of a competent representative to advocate your interests.
You have one year from the date of your initial patent application to submit further patent applications for your innovation, either in the same nation or in another country. Suppose you specify that you desire to “claim priority” to an earlier application and both of your applications cover the same subject matter. In that case, the earlier application will be regarded as if it had been submitted on the same day.
The one-year deadline is fairly stringent, so don’t wait until the last minute to get things done.
#9 – Check you can launch your product/service
An invention patent protects the right to use your idea against unauthorised use, but the patent does not guarantee the right to use your invention in a product or service. This is because your product may be covered by other patents already in use (or even your invention). For example, if you create a product and use a specific substance to coat it in a novel and innovative manner, your patent will protect that product. However, if a patent still protects the substance itself, then selling your product would be an infringement of that patent.
A “freedom to operate” examination determines whether any active patents cover your product. To prevent infringing on these patents, you may need to get a licence or make changes to your product.
#10 – Keep innovating
18 months after filing, all patent applications that have not been abandoned are made public (or after the priority date). In other words, your competition can see what you’ve come up with. For them, it might serve as a starting point for developing better or more creative solutions. If you want to stay ahead of the game, you may file fresh patent applications.