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Patents are the most powerful way to get a monopoly for your ideas. After all the time and investment you’ve spent developing your concept or prototype, protecting that intellectual property is the only way to get the exclusive right to exploit your invention - a right that lasts for 20 years.
However, patents are complex and time-consuming. Whether you need to conduct a search or are looking to file an application, it pays to bring in the experts. With only 41% of DIY applications being successfully granted, getting a good patent attorney on board is essential.
Patents protect both products and processes. To get one, you’ll need to file an application with the relevant authority, such as the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) or the European Patent Office.
Remember that it is territorial (a UK registration only covers the UK) and will last for up to 20 years from filing, provided it is renewed each year. Once grante it will give you exclusive rights to make, use, import or sell your invention.For something to be patentable in the UK, the invention must be:
In the UK (and Europe), it’s important to remember that you must file your application before making it public or, to use the legal jargon, ‘disclosing’ your invention. This is why it’s important to use NDAs when discussing your idea. Other countries, such as the US, give you a 12 month grace period to file a US application after making it public, so check the rules for each country that you want protection in.
Because your invention must be new (on a global scale), lawyers and authorities will search for ‘prior art’ - that is, any evidence that your invention is already known i.e. published or in the public domain. For something to be new, the exact same thing must not have been disclosed before the date your application was first filed, called the ‘priority date’. Meanwhile, for something to be inventive, it must not be obvious to someone skilled in the field of the relevant product or process.
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In many respects Patent Lawyers are quite different from other types of lawyers. They are more than just lawyers, they are specialists at understanding inventions from a technical and commerical perspective.
Chartered Patent Attorneys and European Patent Attorneys need to have at least three years of practical experience and training and must meet quite rigorous qualification standards.
Because of the unique nature of Patent legal work, businesses need to be careful to choose the best attorney it can to help protect Intellectual Property.
Read about the factors we think are the most important in choosing a great patent attorney.
At Lexoo, we’ve curated a panel of attorneys who specialise in patent search and applications in not only the UK, but throughout Europe and beyond. Whether you need a full service firm; an independent attorney or ‘virtual’ firm with lower overheads and reduced fees - we’ve got you covered. We’ll find you specialists in any type of patent matter from conducting searches and filing applications through to helping with infringement.
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When you submit an application, most authorities will conduct a search as part of the application process to check whether the invention is new and inventive.
Many applicants will get an attorney to perform a search before filing an application to establish up front whether an application is likely to succeed. It can also help your chosen lawyer write a more compelling application and unearth any existing patents that you might infringe.
The four main reasons you might wish to perform a search are:
Any application will need to include a description of your invention or idea, claims to the monopoly sought, an abstract and any supporting drawings available.
UK businesses and inventors should begin by filing an application with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). If you require rights in other countries, you will need to begin your overseas filing campaign 12 months after the filing date of your UK application.
There are two main factors to consider when deciding when to file an application:
There are a number of tactics businesses and inventors use when filing applications such as:
Infringment occurs in the UK when:
If your patent is successfully enforced you may be awarded:
Once you file an application, any further applications for the same invention or idea can be backdated to that point, meaning you are notionally protected worldwide, as long as any overseas applications for overseas are filed within 12 months.
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