Step-by-step guide to patent applications

Our step-by-step look at the entire patent application process

  1. Firstly, do not tell anyone about your idea. You are not protected at this point and any type of disclosure could prevent you from getting a patent.
  2. Approach a patent agent if you feel you need help. They will be able to advise on whether your idea is suitable and have the technical and legal expertise to help write the specification.
  3. The specification is the cornerstone of your application. It contains the full description of your invention, plus drawings if necessary. Once submitted, any changes to the design will have to be submitted under a new application.
  4. Initiate proceedings by filling out a “Request for grant of a patent form” (form 1/77, free). Include two copies of the specification.
  5. You will receive a filing date (called a priority date) for your application. This gives you precedent over later patent applications for the same invention.
  6. You now have 12 months to decide if you want to take the application any further. You may use this time to look at whether it is commercially viable.
  7. If you decide to continue, you will have to file a “Request for preliminary examination and search” (form 9/77, £130) and also file the patent claims and an “abstract”, which is a summary of the invention.
  8. The Patent Office will look at your invention to see that it complies with formal patent requirements. It will also search for any existing patents that will be referred to in your application.
  9. The search report will be sent back to you. If you still want to proceed, the Patent Office will publish your application. Then you will have six months to file a “Request for substantive examination,” (form 10/77, £70) which instructs the Patent Office to perform a much more detailed look at your invention.
  10. The examiner will reply, either with confirmation that a patent has been granted or with any concerns about areas he feels need to be amended.

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