Applying to patent an invention in the UK
Applying to patent an invention in the UK

The following IP guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applying to patent an invention in the UK
  • Priority date
  • PCT (international) patent applications
  • Filing a UK patent—patent application stage
  • Preliminary examination stage
  • Publication stage
  • Substantive examination stage
  • Grant of the UK patent
  • Renewal of the patent
  • Flow chart of applying for a UK patent

Applying for a patent inthe UK can be a lengthy and complex process. It is normal practice to employ a trained patent attorney to draft and formally apply for (or 'prosecute') the patent. Patent attorneys were formerly known inthe UK as patent agents. The patent attorney profession is different to the legal profession, despite use of the name 'attorney'. In the USA, people inthat profession are still known as agents, attorneys being lawyers. Some people are qualified inboth professions. Patent attorneys are used not only for assistance indrafting the specification and the claims, but also because how protection is sought, and inwhich countries, requires careful strategic consideration and expert advice on how to minimise or delay fees which are required by the intellectual property offices at different stages of the procedure indifferent jurisdictions. For example, applicants may not want to front load the costs of the application incase the patent does not survive the application procedure.

Priority date

An invention will not be patentable unless it is new (ie essentially it has not been shown to anyone inthe world before) and it involves an inventive step. For the purpose of ascertaining whether an invention is new or comprises an inventive step over what has been achieved inthe past, it is necessary to assign to the invention a date on which these questions are to be judged. That date is known as the 'priority date' (which is often the same as the filing date of the application). Basically, after this priority date, nothing that is put inthe public domain (such