What exactly is a patent?
A patent protects a new idea by giving the owner the right to prevent others from making, importing or selling the idea without proper permission. A patent is granted to someone for a limited time, normally twenty years.
How do you get a patent?
The first step is to commission a worldwide patent search to discover if the idea has already been patented in any other country in the world. Some people choose to submit the patent application before the search but often they end up waiting several months only to be told that the idea has been patented already.
What is a patent search?
It is a search carried out to discover if an idea has already been patented. Potential investors will often require a professional patent search before choosing to back an idea. An expert researcher will complete out a thorough search using specialized techniques including classification code systems and cross referencing. The patent search uses worldwide databases which are not accessible to the inventor.
Why do a professional patent search?
1. A professional patent search can save the inventor a lot of time and money if a match is found and a patent cannot be obtained. It is better to establish this as soon as possible to minimize time and money spent an idea that is not original.
2. The idea may be an improvement on existing prior art but could still be patentable. Therefore you would need to do the search to find all similar patents and then draft your patent application accordingly.
3. A complete report will show what areas of your idea need changing if they conflict with existing patents or which areas of the idea to further develop as they are truly original.
4. Potential investors will expect a patent search to have been conducted.
5. If the patent invention is found to be original through the patent search, the results will help the wording of the patent application so it is more likely to be granted.
The results of a patent search
The results will always be useful either if the invention was found to be original or not. However the language used in patent applications can be difficult to understand and it is often hard to establish the implications of the results. Therefore it is important that any patent search that you commission includes a consultation with an expert in the field of patenting and inventions to help you decide what to do next.
Inventors need to be aware that there is no guarantee that when a patent search takes place that all prior inventions will be detectable. However it is still a vital stage.
Can I now get a patent on my idea?
So what is next, how to patent an idea? Now that a patent search has been conducted the inventor might choose to submit a patent application for patent invention to the intellectual property office. However it is likely that having looked at the results of the worldwide patent search some development needs to be done on the idea. This might be adapting the idea so that it does not conflict with any other patents or further developing the original aspects of the invention.
The Patent application
The patent application is the document submitted to the intellectual property office to acquire a patent on an idea. An application is best submitted to the intellectual property office after the patent search is done and the idea has been developed. It can be self filed or completed by a professional patent agent. Application forms are available through your local intellectual property office. Self filed will cost around 200 pounds or through a patent agent it could cost between 1500 pounds and 3000 pounds. Some inventors choose to use a patent agent because the application is such as important document.