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Intellectual Property


Patents | Trade Marks | Designs


Patents give inventors exclusive rights to stop others using, making, selling, offering to sell and importing your invention without permission.

Our Partner Dr Fiona Kellas gives an explanation of patents and the process for obtaining patent protection:




What is a patent?


A patent is a state-granted monopoly right which, once granted, gives an inventor an exclusive right to stop others from using, making, selling, offering to sell and/ or importing the invention without their permission.


What is patentable?


Patent protection may be available for an invention if it meets the following requirements:


  • The invention must be new (i.e. it has not been made available to the public by written or oral description, by use or in any other way)
  • The invention must be inventive (i.e. it is not obvious to a person skilled in the art)
  • The invention must be capable of industrial application (i.e. it can be made or used in any kind of industry)


In addition, the patent law in some countries may prevent the grant of patents in certain excluded categories. Examples of such excluded categories include methods of medical treatment of the human or animal body and some computer-related inventions.


What should I do if I want to obtain patent protection for my idea?


Our patent attorneys can provide you with advice on the possible patentability of your invention and can assist with preparing and filing a patent application.


If you wish to pursue patent protection for your idea, it is very important that you do not disclose the details of the invention to others without having first filed a patent application or putting a confidentiality agreement in place (e.g. a non disclosure agreement).


Where should you file your patent?


When considering where to file your application, it may be important to determine factors such as where your main markets are, where your competitors are located and/ or where you will be manufacturing your product.


As a first step, we typically suggest filing your application first at the UK Patent Office since the official fees at this patent office are relatively low. After filing the initial patent application, there is then a period of 12 months in which a further patent application may be filed which ‘claims priority’ from the initial application. The term ‘claims priority’ means that the further application will benefit from the filing date of the initial patent application.


An example of a further patent application is an International (PCT) patent application. The International application has two stages. The first stage is the international phase during which a search is carried out by the Patent Office. At the end of the international phase the national phase begins. At this stage, the applicant can choose which national countries they would like to pursue protection in. For example, the application could be filed in Europe, the US, China, Japan, etc. The application is then examined before the national patent offices of the countries in which you have chosen to pursue protection.



Flow chart: a representation of a patent application first filed in the UK which is used to file in Europe, the USA and China from a PCT application.


Can we help you?


Our attorneys have extensive experience in preparing and filing patent applications and assisting with the examination and grant process before the national patent offices.  


We can also assist with prior art and/ or freedom to operate searches.  A prior art search may be carried out to look for publications that may be relevant to the patentability of your idea.  A freedom to operate search may be carried out to look for any registered third party IP rights that may prevent you from developing your idea.


If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys we would be very happy to help.


You can read more about our patenting support services here: Patents & Inventions 

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