You may have invested a great deal of time, effort and money in devising your invention. Once your invention is sold or made available to the public, then it may be straightforward for a competitor to copy your invention and to sell competing products.

A patent is a commercial tool which can be employed to help achieve your business goals. The patent can provide intangible benefits to your business by providing a barrier to competitors entering the market and selling competing products. A patent may help you to make money from an invention by preventing competitors from producing your invention, thereby allowing you to charge a higher price for it. A patent is a piece of property, so it can also be sold or licensed. If a patent is licensed, a licensee typically pays a royalty in return for a promise from the patent owner not to sue the licensee for patent infringement.

Patents can be attractive to investors and can assist in technology transfer.

Given the expense of obtaining a patent, it is good practice to formulate a business case for obtaining a patent. The business case would set out why more profit can be made by protecting an invention with a patent than without a patent.

Our range of patent services

These include:

  • Patent drafting
  • Filing and prosecuting patent applications before the UKIPO, EPO and world wide
  • Invention spotting and IP harvesting
  • Oppositions and appeals before the EPO
  • Infringement and validity opinions and advice
  • Patent searching and freedom to operate searching
  • IP strategy and portfolio management
  • Due diligence
  • Renewals, maintenance fees, proof of working, address for service and numerous other necessary steps in maintaining granted rights.

Worldwide experience

We draft, file and prosecute patent applications worldwide. We can recommend and implement the most effective filing strategy for your needs, whether it's UK-only, European or International.

Large or small, domestic or overseas

We have extensive experience handling small and large IP portfolios for domestic UK clients and overseas clients. Overseas clients will benefit from our extensive experience of UK and European patent prosecution.

Diverse technical knowledge

We handle patents in most technical areas, including: Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electronics, IT & Software, Life Sciences, Mechanical Devices and Physics. For a full list, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “patent”?

A patent is a monopoly right granted by a government to the owner of an invention. The patent is granted when a patent application describing the invention meets certain legal requirements. The monopoly right allows the owner to stop someone else performing certain things relating to the invention – such as making, using, selling or importing the invention. It can also deter others from copying the invention.

It does not give the patent owner the right to use the invention themselves (there may exist other earlier patents that cover some part of the invention).

A UK patent only covers the UK and if coverage in other countries is required, then patents will need to be applied for in those other countries.

What can be protected by a patent?

If something can be made or used in industry then there is a good chance that it can be protected by a patent. But certain types of things cannot be patented– such as literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, a method of doing business, playing a game or thinking, a method of medical treatment or diagnosis, a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method or the way information is presented. These exclusions are often different in different countries and in some instances it may be possible to work around these exclusions and identify patentable subject matter.

If you are concerned that your invention cannot be patented then you can also consider other forms of protection – such as design, copyright, trademark or trade secret protection.

How do I obtain a UK patent?

By making an application to a government agency; in the UK that agency is known as the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO). Obtaining a granted patent from an application will take some time: three to five years is typical, although the application process can be accelerated in some circumstances. A UK patent application will only relate to activities in the UK. If you are interested in protecting your invention elsewhere, further applications will be need to filed in other countries that are of commercial value to your business.

In general, in order for a patent to be granted, a Patent Office must be satisfied that the invention set out in the application is new, inventive, and applicable to some kind of industry.

What is considered new?

In the UK, an invention is considered new if it has not been disclosed to the public before an application for a patent was made. Any disclosures, including your own, count as a public disclosure providing that there was no fetter of confidence either expressly or implied in the disclosure made. In determining whether your patent application relates to something new the UK-IPO will look at the list of essential features set out in your claims and determine whether that combination of features was known at the time the application was filed.

What is considered inventive?

Whether an invention is inventive is a matter of degree rather than a matter of fact. Typically, the UK-IPO considers whether a person skilled in the particular area of technology of the invention would consider that the invention is obvious if having regard to all public disclosures known at the time the application for a patent was made. If your invention offers particular advantages – such as doing something better or doing something unexpected – then these may be indicative of an inventive step.

Domestic and overseas clients

We have extensive experience handling small and large IP portfolios for domestic UK clients and overseas clients.
We have in-depth knowledge of educating our overseas clients on making their patent applications more UK- and European-friendly, which means fewer objections and lower costs. You will also benefit from our extensive experience of UK and European patent prosecution.

Patent Box

The “Patent Box” is a taxation scheme introduced by HMRC which enables companies to apply a lower rate of Corporation Tax to profits earned after 1 April 2013 from their patented inventions and certain other innovations. The relief was phased in from 1 April 2013 with the lower rate of Corporation Tax to be applied to profits attributable to exploiting patented inventions paying a corporation tax of 10 per cent from April 2017. A revised scheme was put in place from 30 June 2016. The benefits of the current scheme continue to be available until 1 July 2021 for those with patent applications filed before 1 July 2016. We can help advise on how you can take full advantage of this scheme.

What next?

If you would like to find out more about how you can use patents to create value for your business, then please get in contact.

William's responsiveness and empathy towards the small biotech sector I work with has resulted in significant cost savings for clients, invariably his advice is focused on actual business needs, and never on patenting for its own sake.

Dr. David Whitehouse, Independent Biotechnology Consultant