The patent system is a ‘first to file’, not a ‘first to invent’ one.
Thus, an inventor must submit his application to the UK Intellectual Property Office without delay before a competitor. The story of Elisha Gray, who filed his application for the telephone four hours later than Alexander Graham Bell who was then awarded the patent by the US Supreme Court and became famous, will if anything nudge an inventor into filing his application as soon as possible!
A patent can be obtained by:
Applying to the UK Intellectual Property Office;
Applying to the European Patent Office; or
Via an international application under the Patent Co-operation Treaty.
Before making an application for a patent, you must ensure that the invention satisfies the four conditions of patentability. Therefore, your patent must:
Constitute an inventive step
Be capable of industrial application and
Not be excluded by the Patent Act (e.g. because it is contrary to public policy or morality).