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Issued on 29th October 2010
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 are territorial and the present procedures sheet
relates to UK 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 procedure for securing grant of a Patent in the UK can be
broadly p into four stages - filing, search, publication and
The first stage is to 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 and further details are given on our
procedures section entitled “Foreign Patents”.
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 application.
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.
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
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”.
Within six months of the date of publication of the
application an “Examination Request” must be filed and an examination
is a Trainee solicitor at Lawdit.
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court
Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign
association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-11-02 12:08:27 in Legal Articles