Patent Costs and Timescales
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Released 10 September 2008
A Patent is a legal monopoly giving an inventor (or his employer) the
exclusive right to make, sell, import or otherwise use his invention. Patents
To be patentable in the UK, the invention must be new at the date of filing a
UK Patent application. This means that the invention must not have been made
available to the public by the inventor or any other party. It is therefore
important to consider whether a UK patent application should be filed before
going to market or otherwise publishing the invention.
The invention must also be sufficiently different to what is already known so
as to be more than an obvious development.
There are four stages to the process.
Stage One. File a Patent application at the UK Patent Office consisting of at
least a description of the invention and drawings (if appropriate). Filing a
Patent application in the UK generates a “UK filing date” from which runs a
“priority year”. On or before the first anniversary of the UK filing date,
further action must be taken to keep the application alive. If Patent protection
abroad is required, this would normally be applied for on or before the first
anniversary of the UK filing date.
During the priority year, the UK Patent Office makes no examination of the
application until such time as a “Search Request” is filed (and a search fee
paid) together with Patent Claims and an Abstract. This may be done at the time
of filing the application (typically increasing the initial cost by 50-100 %)
but must be done on or before the first anniversary of the UK filing date. In
some cases, it is advisable to file the Search Request on filing the
If there are any improvements or modifications to the invention during the
priority year, these may be included in a second UK Patent application. The
second UK Patent application claims priority from the first UK Patent
application and is entitled to the UK filing date of the first UK Patent
application for subject matter which is common to both applications.
Preparing and filing a UK Patent application with Claims Abstract and Search
Request£3000+VAT including all Patent Fees
Stage Two. The search
After a Search Request has been filed and the search fee paid, a Search
Examiner at the UK Patent Office conducts a search through previously published
Patent Specifications and a limited range of other literature to identify
published documents which may be relevant to the patentability of the invention.
A search report listing these documents is sent to the applicant (together with
a copy of the documents) about three months after the Search Request has been
filed. The search report may be used to assess the prospect of the Patent
application being granted.
Sending Search Report and documents £500+VAT
The Third Stage. Publication
Filing Examination Request £200 +VAT
Approximately eighteen months after the UK filing date, the Patent
application is published together with the search report. If the search report
was favourable and the prospect of securing a granted Patent seems good, the
applicant may decide to proceed to “prosecution”.
The Fourth Stage.Prosecution
Within six months of the date of publication of the application an
“Examination Request” must be filed and an examination fee paid.
Typically fees are £200-£1000 +VAT
Coyle is a solicitor advocate who specialises in information
technology law and intellectual property law.
About the Author
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-09-15 21:00:33 in Legal Articles