Patents - Requirements
Written by Husna Bano on 20 August 2007« Return to Reading Room
What is a patent?
A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what
they are made of and how they are made. It gives you the exclusive right to make, use and sell the
invention in the United Kingdom.
Requirements for patent protection
You need to think carefully about the following before applying for a patent for your product or
* Is your invention functional or technical?
Your invention must relate to how something works, what it does, what it is made of, or how it
* Is your invention new?
You must not have made your invention public in any way, anywhere in the world, before you apply
for a patent for it. Conversations with patent agents, solicitors or our staff are confidential,
so will not make your invention public.
* Is there an inventive step?
Your invention must not be obvious to someone with a good knowledge of the subject.
* Does your invention have an industrial use?
Your invention must be capable of being made or used in an industry. It must work in a way which
meets established physical laws, for example, you cannot get a patent for a perpetual-motion
* Your invention must not be:
a scientific or mathematical discovery, theory or method
a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work
a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business
the presentation of information, or some computer programs
an animal or plant variety
a method of medical treatment or diagnosis
against public policy or morality.
If your invention meets these requirements, you may want to consider applying for a patent.
How to apply for a patent?
You can apply to the UK Intellectual Property Office for a patent by post, or if you apply for
patents frequently, you may find it useful to apply online.
An application for a patent should include a full description of your invention (including any
drawings), a set of claims defining your invention, a short abstract summarising the technical
features of your invention and a filled in form 1/77.
If you have a granted patent, you must renew it every year after the 5th year for up to 20 years
How much does it cost?
The normal amount to process a UK patent application is GBP £200.
It is free to apply for grant of a patent
* GBP £30 (application fee) for a preliminary examination
* GBP £100 for a search
* GBP £70 for a substantive examination
A typical patent application takes 2 to 3 years, however the procedure can be accelerated on the
applicant’s request. There is a maximum time limit of 4½ years from the application's earliest
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