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How to Apply for a Patent to Protect Your Idea

Applying for a Patent is something that you can do yourself but it is important to get the details right. There are some important steps that you must take to be successful. This is a summary of the main points but you should always take professional advice from a CIPA recognised Patent Attorney if you are not sure what to do. Join our free Enterprise Service if you would like more advice.

The key steps are:
  1. First decide that a Patent is the protection that you really need. There are other forms of protection that may be more suitable and easier to get. Our page on protecting ideas explains more. Always keep your idea secret by using Confidentiality Agreements. You can get one from the Enterprise Service.

  2. Do a Patent Search to make sure that the idea has not already been patented. Do not assume that your idea is unique. It could be nearly two years before you get a definite answer from the Patent Office and if you go ahead without finding out you could be wasting a lot of time and money. We can carry out a thorough worldwide search for you as part of our Discovery Service.

  3. Complete the application forms from the Patent Office. They need to include a description of your idea, labelled drawings, the claims that you are making about your invention and a summary of the idea called the abstract. If your patent is granted then it will run from the date of your application. This is known as the Priority Date. If someone submits the same idea after you, their patent may not be granted. You may need professional help from a Patent Attorney to write the claims for your idea, especially if your idea is complex.

  4. Whilst you are waiting for your application to be processed continue to research the market and if necessary talk to potential manufacturers under a Confidentiality Agreement. You may need to modify your application or even submit a new one depending on what you find.
    The Patent Process

     -  The process of getting a patent has the eight main steps described on this page.

    -  Until the Patent is granted you can describe your idea as 'Patent Pending'.

    -  When your patent is granted it will run from the date that you applied.

    -  A Patent gives you an exclusive right to sell products based on the idea.

    -  There is a deferred charge of £75 for making a Patent Application in the UK

    -  The total cost of a granted patent in fees to the Patent Office is £310 if you make the application online.
The Eight Steps to Getting a Patent
  1. patent applicationPrepare a Patent Application. It contains a Description of the Idea, Drawings, a set of legal Claims and an Abstract that is a brief summary of the idea. There are rules and guidelines about how to do this and the rest of the process on the Patent Office web site. If you want to see a typical patent application from one of our companies click the picture.

  2. Send your completed application to the Patent Office (Intellectual Property Office or IPO) together with form F1 'Request for Grant of Patent'  which you can get from the Patent Office via our Patent Office Guides page.
  3. The Patent Office will acknowledge receipt of your form and confirm the 'filing date' of your application. You will also be sent an invoice for the application fee of £60 but you do not need to pay this unless you proceed. If you pay it later the fee will be £75. Nothing will happen to your application until you complete the next steps which you must do within approximately twelve months or the application will automatically lapse.

  4. Complete form 9a together with the Application Fee of £60 and a Search Fee of £150 and send it to the Patent Office within 12 months of your filing date.

  5. The Patent Office will examine all your documents and if they are correctly completed they will conduct a 'Preliminary Search' and send you the results within four months. This search will tell you amongst other things whether they consider your idea to be a new idea.

  6. The Patent Office will publish your application within 18 months of your initial application unless you withdraw it. When it is published it goes into the Public Domain and from then the idea cannot be patented by anyone else but it does not mean that your patent will be granted. If you are considering changing your patent or improving it then you must withdraw your application before it is published.

  7. Within six months of publication complete Form 10 and send it to the Patent Office requesting a 'Substantive Examination' with a fee of £100

  8. If your idea meets all the requirements for a patent the Patent Office will confirm it and send you a Certificate.

    Join our free Enterprise Service if you would like help with this process.

    Click here to get the Patent Office Application Forms