Patent FAQs

What is a patent?

A patent is a monopoly that prevents others from making, using, selling or importing your invention without your permission. Patents are granted for a set period of time (usually 20 years, subject to renewal fees) in return for the patent owner disclosing their invention to the public.

Why should I patent my invention?

A patent can provide you with a competitive advantage as the only person allowed to make, use, sell or import your invention. Alternatively, a patent can provide an income if you license or sell the rights to make, use, sell or import an invention. Without a patent, it’s much harder to prevent others from copying your invention.

How do I protect my invention?

Simply explain your invention to us and we can draft a patent application to cover it. We’ll review the draft with you and once you’re happy we’ll file it at a patent office. We usually recommend filing it at the UK Intellectual Property Office to begin with. The patent office will then examine your application and compare it to products and processes already disclosed to the public. Usually, the patent office will raise objections and we’ll argue against them or amend the application accordingly. Once the patent office is satisfied that your invention meets all their requirements, they will grant a patent to cover it.

How do I know if someone has already patented my invention?

A patent search can be used to discover whether someone has already patented an invention. It’s possible to conduct a patent search online but the results may not be completely reliable. A more thorough, accurate search can be conducted using professional patent searchers. This, however, can be an expensive option and so it’s sometimes sensible to go ahead and file a patent application and pay a fee for the patent office to conduct a search during examination of your application.

How much will it cost to patent my invention?

There are two costs associated with obtaining a patent: official fees and professional fees. Official fees vary from a few hundred pounds at the UK Intellectual Property Office to several thousand pounds at the European Patent Office. Professional fees vary depending on the complexity of your invention and the objections raised by the patent offices during examination of your application. If you would like a more accurate estimate, please contact us.

When is it safe to discuss my invention with others?

Ideally we recommend that you wait until after your patent application has been filed. This way you don’t have to worry about confidentiality, and you’re more likely to attract investment since you’ve already filed your application.

Why do I need a patent attorney?

Preparing a patent application and conducting proceedings in the patent office require knowledge of patent law and patent office procedures, as well as specialist knowledge of the scientific or technical matters involved in the particular field of invention. Furthermore, the language used in writing patent claims is different to the language you use when describing your invention. The wording of your patent claims will later be used to determine whether someone is infringing your patent. Given the complexity of patent documents and the legal skills required, it is highly advisable (though not essential) to take legal assistance from a patent attorney to prepare and obtain a patent.

How much does it cost to register a patent?

The cost depends on a number of factors, including the field and complexity of the invention, the number of countries you’re applying in and whether you wish to conduct a search prior to filing the application. The cost of obtaining a patent is spread across various stages: preparing and filing the application, replying to an examination report, payment of grant or issue fees, payment of maintenance fees after grant and replying to any opposition. These are all charged at different rates, so we recommend that you contact us to obtain an estimate. We provide an initial free consultation to explain the patent procedure and cost.

How do I obtain patent protection worldwide?

At present, world or international patents don’t exist. While it is possible to file an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), a PCT application does not automatically lead to worldwide patent protection. Instead you will need to apply to each country and region in which you wish to pursue patent protection. This involves filing separate applications at the “national stage”, 30 months (31 months in some countries) after the filing date or priority date of the PCT application. Each country has its own set of requirements for the grant of a patent.

Although filing a PCT application doesn’t automatically grant worldwide patent protection, it does have benefits. The cost of filing is lower, the decision on which countries to apply to can be delayed, an international search report will be issued and, if required, an international examination report may be requested. The results of the search or examination report can help you decide whether or not to proceed with the application in the various countries, thus avoiding further cost.

We can assist you in all aspects of patent protection and enforcement. If you have any questions please contact a member of our team or contact us at