Invention Patents And Patent Application Process
What are invention patents?
So what exactly is a patent? A patent is a legal right which offers the patentee a monopoly to manufacture, utilise or sell their own invention, legally, over a specific amount of time. A patent is accepted and issued in exchange for the invention specifics.
Patents are not mandatory; however it is important to stress the importance of engaging in the patent process. Once details enter the public domain regarding the invention, application for a patent becomes invalid. This can, in some cases, allow another person to steal your idea and make profit upon it whilst suffering no legal implications.
Patents can last up to a maximum of 20 years. After this time elapses, a renewal fee is required to keep the patent alive. Failure to renew can prompt someone to steal the idea, legally, provided there are no further existing intellectual property rights for the invention.
The patent office does not ensure that inventions are copied by others; this is explicitly down to the owner's discretion. Patents cannot be re-registered, even by the initial owner, since the details already exist in the public domain since all patents can be accessed via a public patent library containing each patent currently filed.
How to patent an idea
The primary requisite for invention application is that the invention must be new, meaning that no information about the idea should have been distributed into the public domain, prior to application. It is also useful to browse existing patents to look for potential replicates of your idea or distinct similarities. British applicants are directed towards the Patent Office where official forms, necessary fees and a succinct description of the invention are all submitted.
Patent Agents exist, who take care of this process on the inventor's behalf, for an arranged fee. The patent agent discusses and negotiates with the Patent Office and devises a report on your invention idea to be presented to the Office. Employing an agent is recommended by many in this field as they can make or break an application's success. A patent agent also advises different protection rights which would be suitable for the idea and bring the full potential of the invention to fruition.
How much does a patent cost?
In general, a successful campaign, with patent granted, will cost £200 or more. A patent agent on the other hand, can cost in excess of £1000 for a basic application. This may sound expensive, but failure to employ such an agent increases the likelihood of an application denial, rendering your idea useless, furthermore profitless.
Renewal fees are mandatory to extend the length of the patent, after the initial 20 year period.
As mentioned briefly, each and every invention filed can be searched and viewed. The International Patent Classification (IPC) spans 70 countries in total simplifying searching methods and maintaining a central patent information repository. Patents can be electronically searched via a database or manually searched in a paper-based fashion.
It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that no process or product which they are manufacturing is conflicting with a currently registered patent. Understanding what competitors are patenting can be a valuable source of information and helpful to avoid patent infringement.
Some patents cover only a specific country or region, so inventions can be copied in areas where the patent does not extend to. For example, in the UK, after a 12 month review period, a patent can be extended to include other countries, although laws which govern patents fluctuate for each different country. Also, an invention may be used, under some circumstances, for research purposes but expressed written consent is required to proceed with this method of appeal.