A patent is a legal monopoly protecting a technical innovation. A patent gives the owner, or “patentee”, a legal right which can be enforced to stop others making, selling, importing or otherwise commercially exploiting the invention covered by the patent, without the patentee’s permission.

Where can I get one?

Patents are territorial and generally need to be filed on a county by country basis.This process can be simplified in the early staged by filing an International patent application.

What are the requirements?

To be patentable in most jurisdictions, the invention must be “novel” or “new” at the date of filing the application.

This means that the invention must not have been disclosed (other than in confidence) either by the inventor or any other party.

Therefore, if someone else has already published details of the same invention anywhere in the world, then it will not be possible to obtain a valid patent for your invention, even if you were unaware of this earlier disclosure.

In view of the novelty requirement, it is very important to consider whether patent protection is required in good time before going to market or otherwise releasing details of the invention. If you disclose details of your invention other than in confidence before filing a patent application, then you will miss out on the opportunity to obtain valid patent protection.

In addition to being new, the invention must be more than an obvious development of what is already known. That is, your invention must involve an “inventive step”. This means that the differences between the invention and the,”state of the art” must me more than obvious differences.

The assessment of novelty and inventive step is based upon the results of the Search Report (prior art) issued by or available to the patent office conducting examination. If the Examiner does not consider that the invention defined in the claims is patentable, or if there are other objections to the application, then an examination report is issued explaining the objections to the application. These objections are usually overcome by amendment to the claims and/or by presenting arguments in support of the patent claims as filed or as amended.


Frequently Asked Questions

Not necessarily – it depends upon the nature of the disclosure.  For example, a disclosure must be ‘enabling’ in order for it to be prejudicial to a Patent granted on the invention.  Thus if only certain details have been publicly disclosed, it may still be possible to secure valid Patent rights in the UK.

It is also of note that certain countries, including the USA and Canada, have a ‘grace period’ in which a Patent application may be filed following such a non-confidentail disclosure, which may be relevant if you have business interests there.