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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, a patent 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 a patent search or looking to file a patent application, it pays to bring in the experts. With only 41% of DIY patent applications being successfully granted, getting a good patent attorney on board is essential.

At Lexoo, we’ve curated a panel of patent attorneys who specialise in patent search and patent applications in not only the UK, but throughout Europe and beyond. Whether you need a full service firm; an independent patent 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 patent searches and filing patents applications through to patent infringement.

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

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Patents 101

Patents protect both products and processes. To get a patent, you’ll need to file a patent application with the relevant authority, such as the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) or the European Patent Office.

Remember that patents are territorial (a UK patent only covers the UK) and they last for up to 20 years from filing, provided they’re renewed each year. Once granted, a patent gives 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 patent 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 an idea you’re hoping to patent. Other countries, such as the US, give you a 12 month grace period to file a US patent application after making it public, so check the rules for each country where you want patent protection.

Because your invention must be new (on a global scale), patent attorneys 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 patent 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.

Patent Search

Most patent authorities will conduct a patent search as part of the application process to check whether the invention is new and inventive. However, many patent applicants get a patent attorney to perform a search before filing an application to establish up front whether a patent application is likely to succeed. It can also help a patent attorney write a more compelling application and unearth any existing patents that you might infringe.

The four main reasons you might wish to perform a patent search are:

  1. To find out if your idea is new and to gauge the likelihood getting patent protection.
  2. To search for information you can use to attack a patent. You might want to do this if you have been threatened with patent 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 patent infringement i.e. a 'freedom to operate search'.
  4. To access the vast amount of free information available on patent 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 a patent application to protect that solution.

Patent Application

Any patent 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 a patent 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 a patent 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 patent protection is not going to be available.

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

  1. Filing a patent 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 patent application.
  2. Withdrawing and re-filing a patent. 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.

Patent Infringement

A patent is infringed in the UK when (please forgive the legal jargon!):

  1. Someone makes, disposes of (e.g. sells), offers to dispose of, uses or imports a patented product, or keeps it for disposal or any other reason.
  2. Someone uses a patented 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 of the patent.
  3. Someone disposes of, offers to dispose of, uses or imports any product obtained directly by means of a patented process or keeps any such product for disposal or any other reason.
  4. Someone supplies or offers to supply an ‘essential element’ of a patented invention.

If your patent is successfully enforced you may be awarded:

Once you file a patent 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 applications for overseas patents are filed within 12 months.

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Top tips when selecting a patent attorney

Here’s our list of top tips for selecting the right patent attorney:

  1. Qualifications: Patent attorneys (AKA patent 'agents') are a particular type of lawyer who’re trained specifically to represent patent applicants before the national and regional patent offices. Ensure your patent attorney is qualified as a UK Chartered Patent Attorney or European Patent Attorney (or both!).
  2. Technical background: find a patent attorney with same technical background (most have at least one) as the technology underpinning your invention e.g. an electrical engineer would suit mechanical, electrical and computer related technologies; but not biotechnology.
  3. Track record: whether you’re looking to apply for a patent in the UK, Europe or elsewhere, remember that each country has it’s own quirks, so look for patent attorneys who’ve successfully filed patents in the specific countries you’re after. Ask for evidence: what’s the backlog looking like right now? How much is it to file in those countries? What are the translation costs? Make sure their finger is on the pulse.
  4. Strategic advice: a good patent attorney will help with strategic decisions such as which route (UK only; or European Patent Office or Patent Cooperation Treaty application) to take, country selection, disclosure strategy, options to accelerate the process and more.
  5. Transparent pricing: patents are not cheap. But you can avoid blowing the budget by getting a clear breakdown of not only the professional fees of your patent attorney for preparing your application and managing the process through to grant (or even opposition), but also non-professional costs such as government filing and search fees and language translation costs.
  6. Our curated a panel of patent attorneys specialise in patent searches, applications and litigation in the UK, Europe and beyond. Whether you need a full service firm; an independent patent attorney or ‘virtual’ firm with lower overheads and reduced fees - you’ve come to the right place.

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

Meet Jerry, a Lexoo Trademark Attorney

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