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How to Patent an Idea
A patent gives protection to the owner of an original product idea. It protects the functionality of the product, and prevents others from making, importing or selling the product without their permission. Patents can be obtained for protection rights within the UK, or on a wider geographical basis.
Patents are one form of Intellectual Property (IP) available, and sit alongside the “Registered Design’ of a product, ‘Copyright’ of artistic work, and ‘Tradesmarks’ for a sign, symbol or logo of products or services.
In order to patent a product idea it must be new, inventive, and be something that can be made or used. The product idea must be something that represents an improvement over an existing product or is completely new in its field.
Before applying for a patent, you need to conduct a worldwide patent search to make sure that your product idea is new. You would be surprised how many inventions already exist. First you should do an Internet search, and then if you don’t find your idea, a worldwide patent search should be undertaken. A patent attorney or other IP advisor will be able to do this for you, and will be able to give you professional advice about whether your idea is appropriate for patent protection.
The most common mistake made is to reveal the product idea before applying for a patent. If you reveal your invention in any way before applying for the patent, you are making your product public, and this could affect a patent being granted. If you do speak to anyone about your product idea, you should first ask them to complete a confidentiality agreement.
Following the patent search, you will need to produce a patent application, known as a ‘specification’. You can prepare this yourself, however a patent attorney or IP advisor will be able to give you professional and expert advice on the production of the application. The specification will include a written description of your invention, drawings, details of its distinctive technical features, and a summary of the technical aspects of your invention.
The patent application is submitted to the UK Intellectual Property Office, who will file your application, undertake a full examination of it, and publish your patent application if it meets the requirements of the Patents Act 1977. A typical patent application takes 3 to 4 years to complete.
A UK patent gives you rights within the UK for up to 20 years as long as you pay renewal fees every year. The patent can be extended to cover other countries at the time of application but this will carry additional costs.
It is always best to develop your idea to a working prototype level before applying for a patent; this proves the design or invention prior to the description of the invention being drawn up. It is not possible to significantly change or amend the description of an invention after filing a patent, so getting it right first time is important.
How TRIG Creative can help
Trig Creative can help with inventions assisting with all your product development needs with services ranging from initial concept development through to 3D CAD, engineering and prototyping. We can handhold the process of developing a product from raw initial idea to production ready solution. We can also assist in the process of applying for a patent by providing drawings/ illustrations and putting you in touch with one of our trusted patent attorneys or IP advisors.
Please get in touch if you would like a free of charge consultation to discuss your idea.