In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).
The application process for patents is very technical and it is recommended that you use a specialist. Also, timing of the application is also important, as applying too early could mean that an invention is patented which is underdeveloped or too late could mean that another party may invent and patent before you.
A patent application can usually take between three to four years and consists of the following steps:
1. Draft a ‘patent specification’ outlining the invention.
2. File the ‘patent specification’ with the UKIPO and receive a filing receipt confirming the date of the application.
3. File a request for a search within 12 months of the application.
4. The UKIPO carries out a preliminary check of the application to check if the invention is ‘new’.
5. The UKIPO publishes the patent application for a period of 18 months from the filing of the application.
6. Within the first 6 months of the application being published, a request for ‘a substantive examination'(with payment of a fee) needs to be filed.
7. The application is examined thoroughly and the applicant is informed if anything needs to be amended.
8. If the application meets the requirements of the Patents Act 1977 the patent will be granted and the application will be published and a certificate will be issued.
Once the patent has been granted the holder is required to pay renewal fees to avoid the patent rights coming to an end.