What is a Patent?

Patents are part of the intellectual property (IP) family of rights, granted by the government which give the holder exclusive rights to an invention for a set period of time during which others are prevented from making, using, selling, importing or exporting the invention without the holder’s permission.

Patents enable the holder to generate revenue by utilising the invention himself, or by licensing others to use it.

Benefits of having a patent

Patents offer the holder a monopoly over the invention.

Some argue that patents can be beneficial to a country’s economy as they reward innovation and thereby encourage competition for new ideas with other inventors.

It must be noted that only the holder of a patent is responsible for enforcing the patent rights, not the UKIPO.

What is patentable?

For an invention to be patentable it must have new functional or technical aspects and not a modification of what is already known. A patent could be obtained on how things work, how they are made or what they are made of.

Before a patent application is made, the inventor will first need to carry out significant research to establish whether the invention is new. This will include searching through patents already published. The examiner that deals with the patent application will also carry out a search to see that the invention is new. If there is any evidence to the contrary, the application will be refused. It is therefore important that a solicitor specialising in patents or a Patent Attorney is consulted, who can carry out a thorough search for you to increase the chance of your patent application being successful.

If a patent is seen as a potential hindrance to innovation, such as one that would grant too large a monopoly to the inventor, then it will not be granted.

How long does a patent last?

Under the Patent Act 1977, patents last 20 years provided annual renewal fees are paid.

If you are considering patenting an invention, then please contact our Intellectual Property Department.

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