Patents: what you need to know

If the success of your business depends on a new product or a new service, then it’s quite possible that you need to consider filing a patent. Often, but not always, patents are suitable for protecting new inventions which are based on something technical and which result in commercially valuable improvements. Aside from patents, other forms of intellectual property (IP) include designs and trade marks.

What is a patent?
Patents are legal rights which protect technical inventions. The proprietor of a granted patent has a legal right to prevent others from exploiting the patented invention without their consent.
Patents are property rights. They can be bought, sold, licensed and used as security. They can be used to defend monopoly positions in products or processes and/or licensed to one or more other parties, usually in exchange for royalty payments.
Read more

What is a patent application?
The time taken to obtain a patent varies substantially from country to country and also depends upon whether the applicant is actively seeking rapid grant of a patent.
UK patent applications typically take two-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years to be granted, although they can, in some circumstances, be granted in less than one year.
Read more

What can be protected by a patent?
A UK or European patent can only be granted for an invention which is (1) new, (2) involves an inventive step and (3) is capable of industrial application. In addition, some types of innovation are not considered to be inventions for which a patent can be granted. These criteria are discussed in more depth below.
Read more

Why should I apply for a patent?
Patents can provide useful monopolies where they cover products or processes which businesses sell. They can present a substantial barrier to entry to competitors and maintain market exclusivity for the duration of the patent.
Read more