The usual way to discover categorically if an invention is patentable is to file a patent application.
We file at the UK Intellectual Property Office (“UK IPO”) as an economic, effective and efficient way to achieve a priority date for protection and get your invention searched for novelty and inventive step requirements. The majority of the cost of filing will be drafting fees, which are spent once only. A good draft will prove invaluable.
A filing date starts the clock ticking and if you proceed and obtain the grant of a patent in a country you are copied in you may claim for damages from that date.
We would develop a detailed specification, produce figures of embodiments, and outline claims to your desired monopoly. Once a draft has been approved and filed at the UK IPO, within 12 months you would need to make a decision on your international dimension.
We charge between £2,500 and £4,000 +VAT dependant on complexity, for drafting a specification, filing a GB application, and requesting search and examination. To file internationally in the major markets: £3,000 (+VAT) to file an application at the USPTO (US Patents and Trademarks Office); £5,000 (+VAT) for filing an application for an EP patent (European); and £6,000 (+VAT) for filing a PCT (international application). Our figure for a GB application covers the official fees and miscellaneous replying, reporting and formalities sums, commonly ‘drip-fed’. The other significant expense before grant is to reply to the examination, which typically corresponds to approximately £750-£1,500 +VAT.
The price of a PCT would increase greatly depending on the number of states you later decide to extend to as a PCT is the option to file in other countries with the same filing date, but will not lead to an international patent. However with a PCT you buy 30 months to decide which markets you want protection in instead of 12 months.
Assuming you file in the UK first you will have 12 months to review the potential of the device, find investors, and decide whether you want to extend internationally or file a PCT. A granted GB patent will give you recourse against others making, disposing of, offering to dispose of, using or importing products that infringe that patent, but only in the UK. Your application will be published at around 18 months from filing and if successful grants typically after 3-4 years, however protection may be backdated to the filing date. These timescales can be reduced if so desired.
Co-authored by Tim Mount (In-house patent specialist)