Patents

Patents provide you with legal protection for your technical ideas – whether they relate to a completely new product or process, or to a development of something already in existence. A patent gives the owner the right to stop competitors from using and benefiting from the patented idea. A patent can be sold, or it can be used to generate royalty income by licensing. Patents can be kept in force for up to 20 years, providing you continue to pay renewal fees.

First steps

Please do not disclose your idea to anyone before discussing it with us, since any such disclosure may prevent you from obtaining valid patent protection. Any details you discuss with us will, of course, be treated as strictly confidential. During an initial no obligation telephone conversation – or a meeting if you prefer – we can provide preliminary advice. We will ask you to provide as much detailed information as possible about how, in practice, your invention will be made or used. Drawings, even simple sketches, can be very helpful. We will discuss with you what is special about your idea and how it differs from what is already known. 

We can explain different options for searching to see if others have already published similar ideas. 

If you wish to proceed, we will use the information you have provided to prepare a patent specification for you to review. This describes in detail particular examples of your idea and also defines in broad terms the essence of your invention. This definition serves to determine the extent of protection that can be obtained and thus the scope of your monopoly. It is therefore critical that the specification is carefully worded to give you maximum competitive advantage. 

Once the wording of the specification has been agreed with you, we will file the patent application for you with the relevant official body, usually the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).

The process

Before a patent can be granted, the application must be examined by the UKIPO to ensure that it meets the various official criteria. During this procedure we will be your agent, handling all correspondence on your behalf and acting as your advocate to deal with any objections from the UKIPO. This could include performing a careful analysis of any similar ideas brought to light in searches performed by the UKIPO, judiciously modifying the wording of the patent specification and presenting technical and legal arguments as required.

Throughout the process we will keep you fully informed of developments, help you make any key decisions and seek to ensure that all deadlines are met. 

Patents are country-specific. So, unless your idea is protected in other countries, you may not be able to prevent competitors from exploiting your idea in those countries. We can advise you on, and implement, the most appropriate filing programme abroad.

Timescales and costs

Typically a UK patent is granted two to four years from the time you first contact us. Total costs for obtaining a UK patent are often in the region of £3000 to £5000, depending on the complexity of your idea. 

Costs and timescales for obtaining patent protection abroad vary depending on the country concerned.