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Protect your idea

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.

How do I register a Patent?

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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Who are Patent Attorneys?

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.

Using Lexoo to find a great Patent Lawyer

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.

Simply tell us your requirements and you’ll get multiple, fixed-fee quotes within 24 hours from a selection of lawyers, handpicked to suit your needs. The service is 100% free - give us a try.

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What is a patent search?

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:

  1. To find out if your idea is new and to gauge the likelihood getting protection.
  2. To search for information you can use to attack an existing patent. You might want to do this if you have been threatened with infringement or if you are looking to use the product or process described in a patent.
  3. To discover whether you may be liable for infringement i.e. a 'freedom to operate search'.
  4. To access the vast amount of free information available on databases. This information may prove helpful for your own product development. If you have a problem, it may be that someone else has found a solution and filed an application to protect that solution.

What is included in a patent application?

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:

  1. Sufficiency. An invention or idea must be sufficiently developed so that it can be explained fully. You can only file an application if there is enough information to describe at least one way of making the invention or idea work and so that a person reading the document would be able to do so without having to exercise any inventive effort.
  2. Route to market. Businesses and inventors who have no real wish to manufacture and sell products that embody their invention should still file an application at the earliest opportunity. If you plan to license or sell a granted patent, there is no point spending money on product design or prototyping if protection is not going to be available.

There are a number of tactics businesses and inventors use when filing applications such as:

  1. Filing an application just before the launch of an invention. This allows you 12 months to market-test your invention without committing to the cost of an overseas application.
  2. Withdrawing and re-filing a patent. Applications can be withdrawn and refiled to reset the timelines.
  3. Filing multiple applications. This allows you to obtain an early priority date for the general inventive concept. You can then incorporate any developments made during prototyping within the following 12 months in subsequent applications.

What is patent infringement?

Infringment occurs in the UK when:

  1. Someone makes, disposes of (e.g. sells), offers to dispose of, uses or imports a protected product, or keeps it for disposal or any other reason.
  2. Someone uses a protected process or offers it for use in the UK when it is obvious to a reasonable person in the circumstances that doing so would be an infringement.
  3. Someone disposes of, offers to dispose of, uses or imports any product obtained directly by means of a process or keeps any such product for disposal or any other reason.
  4. Someone supplies or offers to supply an ‘essential element’ of a registered invention.

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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