Applying for a Patent in the United Kingdom
The first step, which should take place before you apply, is to check whether a patent is right for your business.
As a rule, you will need a patent attorney (or advisor) to help you:
- Prepare a correct patent application. You would not be able to add any extra information once you apply.
- Increase the likelihood of the IPO granting you a patent.
- Make your IP protection as commercially valuable as possible.
Note: It is commonplace for companies to approach with offers of promoting the invention (for a fee). So, always seek independent legal or financial advice before agreeing to this kind of arrangement.
A patent attorney or advisor will guide you through the whole patent application process. But, you should prepare for costs around £4,000 and a timescale of up to five (5) years for completion.
There is a set procedure to follow when applying for patent protection in United Kingdom. The actual registration takes place with the Intellectual Property Office in Newport, South Wales.
Here’s how it works:
- Carry out your search for a patent to ensure the invention does not already exist.
- Prepare the 4 parts of a patent application needed to meet specific criteria (details below).
- File the patent application, pay the fees, and request your search and examination from the IPO.
- It will take around six (6) months to get the results of your search report. You would then need to decide whether to continue with the patent application.
- The IPO will publish the application 18 months after it gets filed.
- Make a request for a ‘substantive examination‘ within six (6) months of publication.
- Give your response to IPO comments on the results of the exam. In fact, an examination can take place several years after filing an application.
- The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will either grant or refuse the application after you apply.
Note: Revealing an invention to the public before applying for patent protection risks losing the chance of getting it granted. You can choose to license, mortgage, or sell a patent for commercial benefit once it becomes valid.
Other Methods of Filing a UK Patent
There are several other ways to get patent protection in the United Kingdom. You may choose to file a UK patent application via:
How to Prepare Your Patent Application
In most cases, there are four (4) separate parts to prepare for a patent application. Each component will need to meet a specific criteria.
You would need to include:
- A description of the invention that allows others to see how it could be made and how it actually works.
- Claims (legal statements) setting out the technical features of the creation that will get patent protection.
- The ‘abstract’. This is a summary of all the important technical aspects of the invention.
- It is best to include drawings that illustrate, or add to, the description.
The submission of the description, and any specific drawings, should go along with the patent application form.
You can choose to file forms and documents for an existing UK patent (e.g. claims and abstract) once the process is ongoing. But, it is a better practice to submit all the parts at the same time and together.
Note: Submitting a description of more than 35 pages, or including 25+ claims, will affect the fee charges. The IPO patent fact sheets provide further instructions on how to produce each part of an application.
Sending Academic Papers
Part of your patent application can include academic papers. Often, doing so helps to describe the invention. Even so, you must still send the claims, a description, and drawings.
Completing a ‘Statement of Inventorship’
As a rule, you would need to complete a statement of inventorship if you are not the actual inventor, or:
- More than one inventor exists and they do not list themselves as applicants.
- You are applying for a patent on behalf of a company.
The main purpose of the statement is to provide the IPO with extra information about the identity of the inventor. It also informs them of why you have the right to apply for the patent on their behalf.
You can submit a ‘statement of inventorship’:
- Online… at the same time as applying for a patent.
- At a later date by filing documents for a pending UK patent.
- By downloading Form 7 (statement of inventorship and of right to grant of a patent) and send it with the application.
Applying for a Patent Online
You can apply for a patent with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) either online, by post, or by fax. You can also request and pay for your search and examination at the same time or after you apply.
Table of Current Patent Fees
- Application online (paid when you apply): £60 (£90 by post)
- Application online (paid later): £75 (£112.50 by post)
- Search online: £150 plus £20 for each claim over 25 (£180 by post plus £20 for each claim over 25)
- Substantive examination online: £100 plus £10 for each page of description over 35 pages (£130 by post plus £10 for each page of description over 35 pages)
Note: There is an extra fee to renew a patent which keeps the intellectual property protection valid and in force.
Patent Fast Grant
There are different accelerated procedures offered by the IPO to accelerate patent application processing. So, for example you might get a ‘fast grant’ patent if:
- There is some sort of environmental benefit from your invention (e.g. green channel).
- You already submitted a patent application at another patent office (e.g. Patent Prosecution Highway).
Accelerated Procedures for Patent Applications
IPO will process an application quicker if you request your search and examination at the same time as applying. The cost is the same as making separate applications, but they would get processed at the same time.