A patent is a legal form of protection provided by the government over a new invention. Whilst the patent is granted the owner obtains intellectual property rights which enable them to prevent others from copying, using or selling his , her invention without their permission.
The patent is a two way transaction between the government and the inventor. In order to apply for a patent the inventor has to share with the government (and thus the wider public) how exactly what they invented works i.e. revealing the technical detail. In return the government protects that invention for a defined period of time. UK patent law is governed by the Patents Act (1949).
The invention itself does not have to be a product; it can be a new function or technical process or an enhancement to a current product or process.
Requirements for the grant of a UK Patent
The invention must be original and brand new. It must have some type of inventive aspect that a person within a relevant industry sector would not have knowledge of. It must however be capable of being made within this relevant industry.
There are lists of items which a patent cannot be applied to, such as:
- Scientific or mathematical discoveries
- Art and design
- Animal or plant species
- Medical discovery such as a new treatment or diagnosis
- Method of presenting information
- Literary or musical work
- Discovery of a natural process
- Immoral or contrary to public policy
Who can apply and be granted a Patent?
Obviously the original inventor is entitled to apply and be granted a patent over their new invention (subject to the above requirements). However it is often the case that many people are involved in the creation of an invention and therefore it can become quite difficult to ascertain who exactly the patent should be registered against.
Patent applications can be made by an individual inventor or company. In many cases the application can be made by two parties jointly and when the patent is granted the rights are allocated accordingly.
Be aware that if you created you invention whilst employed i.e. either in the course of your duties or during work hours and used work resources, then it could be the case that your employer is legal owner of your invention. Check your employment contract for any relevant provisions. If you are still unclear you should seek legal advice.
The length of a Patent
A patent can be granted for 5 to 20 years. A block application can be made for 0-4 years, anything above this, you must renew the patent every 4th anniversary.
Infringement and Enforcing a Patent
There is no specific symbol used to demonstrate that a patent is registered. However you should make it clear that an invention is patented by stating the word ‘Patented’, or if you are in the application process then you can always state ‘Patent Applied For’ or ‘Patent Pending’ depending on what stage it is at. This should act as a deterrent against those whom might infringe upon your rights.
If someone creates uses or sells your invention without your permission and it is patented, this is an infringement of your legal rights. It is always a good idea to try to resolve the issue first via notification and negotiation, as the person or company may be doing so without knowledge of their infringement.
If you are aware of an infringement that is not accidental, then you should seek the services of an intellectual property solicitor as soon as possible. The lawyer will be able to notify the offending party officially and threaten legal action where appropriate.
It is often the case that tactful negotiation and mediation can resolve a patent infringement and compensation is often agreed out of court. However as owning a patent is a legal right, you are able to enforce it through the courts. The court can offer solutions such as awarding injunctions, which prevents the person or company from creating or using the patented invention, they can also order the infringer to give up any goods produced as a result of using the patented process and the court can also award damages.
The benefits of having a Patent
- Prevention against exploitation – having patented protection over your invention means that others are prevented from copying, using or selling your idea without your permission. This keeps the value and originality of your work safe.
- Generating an income – owning a patented product or process can provide a source of income (depending on demand). The patent can be licensed and , or sold the same as other assets. For example if you have designed a revolutionary car engine and patented the ‘revolutionary’ aspect of the invention. If Honda then wished to use the invention in one of its cars, you could licence the right to use the patented object to the company in return for capital. You can of course sell your patented rights to another party.
Using Patent Solicitors
Our Patent Solicitors can help you in the following ways:
- Offer expert advice about whether or not you are entitled to register for a patent over your invention and help you ascertain the value of getting a patent
- Help you protect your invention effectively
- Enforce your legal rights
- Produce a comprehensive license for the patent or contract of sale
- Negotiate or meditate with the patent infringers, or where necessary take action before the court
Our Patent Solicitors can make sure that you as an individual get the best from your invention. We can also help you use your intellectual property rights as a strategy to encourage the growth of your business.
Contact our UK Patent Solicitors
For a free initial consultation, please
- FREEPHONE 0800 1404544
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Comments or questions are welcome.