FAQs: 5. What is involved in the patent process?

What is invention harvesting?
The fifth of our FAQs series: What is involved in the patent process?

The patent process in the UK (and most other countries) is relatively long (usually 3-4 years), and there are various deadline-driven stages and procedures that need to be followed. To the uninitiated, this process can seem complex and laborious, so in our final blog in this FAQ series, we will look at what is involved in the patent process, so that hopefully you won’t end up feeling like this’:

A rough guide to the patent process

The starting point for all patents is to draft a patent specification. A patent specification is a complete record of your invention (in the form that it is at the time of drafting) and includes:

  • An introduction, that ‘sets the scene’ and describes the
    ‘problem’ or deficiency that your invention seeks to address;
  • Statements of invention, which are legal phrases that define the
    scope of the patent protection being sought (i.e. precisely what
    we hope to be able to prevent third parties from doing), and match the
    Claims (mentioned below) in substance, rather than form;
  • A Specific Description, which is a detailed description of at least
    one version of your invention and which is required to be “clear
    and complete enough for the invention to be reproduced
    without undue experiment”. This last phrase is important,
    because, while we need to be fairly clear and open about
    the invention in this section, we do not have to provide a step
    by step “roadmap”. This can be particularly pertinent for
    computer-implemented inventions, because it means that we
    would not, for example, have to divulge the software code
    devised to implement the invention. Drawings will also be included and
    referenced in this section.
  • Claims, which usually match the Statements of Invention (in
    a slightly different format) and, again, act to define the scope
    of protection sought;
  • An abstract, which is a very brief overview of the invention.

Once the patent specification has been drafted, it is filed at the UK Patent Office (“UKIPO”), usually with a search request (and payment of search fees).

The rest of a typical patent process is summarised as follows:

  • 3-6 months after filing, a search report would be issued,
    detailing any documents found by the Examiner that they think
    might be relevant to the patentability of your invention;
  • By the end of 12 months after filing the UK application, we
    must file any corresponding overseas applications. We also
    recommend, at this time, “completing” any formalities
    outstanding on the UK application, such as filing an abstract
    (which can be omitted from the specification at the time of
    filing), formal drawings or a so-called statement of inventorship;
  • Around 18 months after filing, the application is published;
  • 6 months after publication, a request for examination
    must be filed; It is worth noting here that some people opt to file a request combined search and examination right at the start of the process and whether or not this i an appropriate avenue for you can be discussed with your patent attorney.
  • After that, and during the subsequent couple of years, the
    UKIPO will issue an examination report, detailing any objections
    it may have to the application (and, usually, referencing the
    documents found at the search stage), and a deadline is set for
    filing a response, usually in the form of changes to
    the claims and arguments. There may be more than one round
    of examination reports, before…
  • Acceptance and Grant of the patent.
  • Annual renewal fees are payable to the UKIPO to maintain the
    patent in force for the full 20 years from filing (if you wish).

A typical patent process timeline:

Need help?

There are numerous reasons why patents can benefit your business as you grow, and we can help you to decide whether to patent or not to patent…book your free consultation today.

Call: +44(0)7714797135

email: vicki.strachan@strachanip.co.uk

wesbite: https://strachanip.co.uk/contact/

or just book a mutually convenient meeting via the

Calendly link: https://calendly.com/strachan-ip-a-fresh-view-of-intellectual-property/30min

Final note: if you want to secure patent protection for your invention, you must not disclose the invention to anyone, except in the strictest of confidence, unless and until a UK patent application has been filed.

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