FAQs: 3. What is patentable?

Can patents play an essential role in business growth?
The second of our FAQs series: Can patents play an essential role in business growth?

I am often asked, what is patentable? Well, you could try reading the Patent Office guide to patentability in their Manual of Patent Practice, which is long, complicated and rather laborious to say the least. Or you can read on for a quick and easy guide…

A patent can be obtained for a product, process, system, and even a “kit of parts”. The basic requirements are that a) it must have at least one novel technical feature, and b) that novel technical feature must involve a so-called “inventive step”, i.e. it must be more than an “obvious” workshop modification of what has gone before. And these requirements are assessed against everything published, or otherwise in the public domain worldwide before the patent application is filed. So, how do we assess what is patentable?


This is a fairly easy thing to assess: either your innovation has something technically novel about it, or it doesn’t. It is almost a matter of fact.

Inventive Step

Inventive step is a little bit more subjective, and can be more difficult to assess. We talked in detail about “inventive step” in our blog: The truth about obviousness in patent law, so we will just reiterate here that you should avoid dismissing a novel technical feature as “obvious” without speaking to a Chartered patent attorney; especially if it is an important part of your unique selling point (USP), because even a small degree of inventiveness may be enough to warrant a patent.

What is patentable in computer-implemented inventions?

Some innovators in the field of software development are under the misconception that software-based innovation is not patentable. But nothing could be further from the truth!

It is true that a computer-implemented invention needs to have a novel feature that offers some ‘technical advance’, and the law around that latter term is complex and rather laborious. But again, our best advice is that if protecting your software-based innovation would protect your revenue stream, not to mention offer the Patent Box relief, it is worth consulting a Chartered patent attorney before dismissing the innovation as unpatentable. For more information, see our ebook, available at https://strachanip.co.uk/simple-guide-ip/, or read our blog: Can you patent software inventions?

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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