Top Tips on Patenting an Idea With the Intellectual Property Office (UK) Formerly the Patent Office

Before Approaching the Intellectual Property Office (UK)

It is important to define, and in most cases develop, what you are trying to protect before discussing your idea with the Intellectual Property Office (UK). The office can offer some support and help to individuals looking to patent an idea themselves, however for most people expert help is required to develop their product prior to a robust patent application being submitted that has a decent chance of being granted. This is because, it is not usually possible to protect the overall concept but instead most patents protect the method by which the idea carries out the overall concept.

Here is a brief list of the elements that need considering before approaching the Intellectual Property Office (UK):

Has your idea been developed sufficiently to be able to be patented?
Is a patent the best form of protection for your idea?
Is it worth even considering the patent process, bearing in mind the timescales and costs involved?
Is there a market for your idea to justify the cost and time involved in applying to The Intellectual Property Office (UK)?
Has anyone else patented my idea already?
Patent applications need to be drafted to ensure as broad a scope of protection as possible but still narrow enough to be successfully granted. You can draft an application yourself but it is often worth getting a patent attorney to do it for you.

Once you have filed your application you have 12 months before having to decide on foreign filing. This is where patenting starts to get expense and so it is important, for most people, that their idea has started to make money before then. For this reason it is often worth holding back on filing your patent until your idea is further developed and ready to either: present to companies to achieve a licensing agreement or almost ready to put into production. In the meantime, confidentiality agreements can offer a form of protection to help acquire the professional services you will need prior to filing your patent application.

TOP TIP: You don’t have to request The Intellectual Property Office (UK) examination for the first 12 months saving you some money. However, it is prudent to have the results back before deciding about foreign filing and this examination can take up to 4 months for The Intellectual Property Office (UK) to complete. Therefore we suggest you request the examination immediately or at least within 6 months of filing to make sure the results are in with time to spare.

TOP TIP: Don’t waste time, money and effort filing a patent application until you have checked to see if someone else has already filed an application on the same idea. Complete a professional patent search first – always make sure any patent search comes with written conclusions by a Chartered Patent Attorney.

Further Info on the Intellectual Property Office (UK)

The Intellectual Property Office, formerly known as the patent office, is the only organisation that can grant a patent in the UK. It is also responsible for registered designs, copyright and trademarks

The office is responsible for the following patent related tasks:

Receiving and examining patent applications
Granting patents
Maintaining a library of granted patents
Correcting defective patents
Cataloguing and storing document related to patent applications
Collecting patent fees
The Intellectual Property Office (UK) is very helpful to individuals looking to protect their ideas. However the patent application process is long and sometimes costly. It is often sensible to first get a global patent search completed to help ensure your idea is unique and therefore worth pursuing. It is also often essential to have your idea sufficiently developed before attempting to draft and file a robust patent application.

This article has been written by Phil Staunton, Managing Director of D2M Innovation Ltd. Phil has a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs patent, develop and sell their ideas and has worked on over 500 new projects over the last 5 years.