How do I get a patent?

Quite simply: you have to apply for a patent. No-one will seek you out and give you one. And a frequent misunderstanding to clarify is that you will not get a patent by sending the details to yourself. If that worked, you’d be a patent office, and you’d know what to do with the application that you’ve just sent yourself.

A patent application requires a patent specification. International standards vary slightly, but there are common elements: your name (or the company that you are applying on behalf of), an indication that you want a patent to be granted (usually on a handy form that the patent offices insist you use), a full enabling description of the invention and any drawings useful in its comprehension (essentially an instruction kit to let someone skilled in the art put your invention into effect) and one or more claims that set out the legal definition of your invention.

Writing the specification can be complicated and professional advice is recommended (although I would say that). Ask any patent attorney to tell you the difference between “comprise” and “consist” and you’ll get a flavour of the traps that await the unwary. And probably bored. If your eyes haven’t totally glazed over ask the difference between “elongate” and “elongated”.

There is likely to be an official fee for you filing your application. Patent examiners have mortgages and kids and cars and need to be paid, fed and clothed too.

The application will eventually be examined. In the UK and the European Patent Office there is a two stage examination process. The application is first subjected to a novelty search. An examiner is assigned to look through the “prior art” (mainly, but not limited to, patent documents already published in that field of technology) for your invention and try and come up with documents that may be used to challenge the novelty (or “newness”) and inventive step (whether or not its “obvious”) of your application.

Based on this search, you decide whether to proceed with the second phase of examination and pay the fee for doing so. If you decide to, the application moves to a technical examiner who reviews the application and its claims more thoroughly.

The application and its claims may need to be modified to be acceptable, or an examiner may need to be convinced that it has novelty and inventive step as it stands.

If the examiner is convinced of its merits you get a patent.

There are other esoteric stages (which is why its good to have someone experienced helping you out), but this is the simplified story of the application process. Why not contact us for a no cost, no obligation consultation to determine what can and should be done with your idea.