What is a patent?

A patent is, in essence, a monopoly awarded for a limited period of time in return for a public disclosure of your invention, and your invention meeting certain criteria, primarily in terms of originality.  In most countries, a patent is not a classical monopoly, it is a right to prevent others from putting onto the market something that falls within the scope of the patent. When the monopoly expires, your disclosure enables your invention to be worked by the public.

Where can I obtain a patent?

Patents are typically obtained on a country by country basis, so typically a patent application should be filed at the IP Office of the country where a patent is required. An application is typically filed in the applicant's home country first. International agreements allows overseas applications to be filed in many countries up to twelve months after the original application, but advice should be sought on this matter. 

Who can apply for a patent?

An invention of a technical product or technical process which is new and which overcomes a technical problem in a non-obvious way may be able to obtain a patent. The inventor, or the successor in title of the inventor, should apply for a patent. 

When should I apply for a patent?

In most countries, your invention must be kept confidential until a patent application is filed at an IP Office. If a patent is required in more than one country, we can advise you when your idea can be disclosed without jeopardising your chance of obtaining a patent in countries of interest. 

Why should I seek to obtain a patent?

A patent is an entirely legal barrier to competition. A patent is awarded to prevent unscrupulous copying. It can be viewed as a reward for research and development. If a company has the legal means to prevent competition, the company is afforded greater freedom over its pricing, which enables the company to charge a premium for its product.  

Why should I use a European patent attorney?

Defining "the scope" of a patent is a very complicated process, if one is going to do it optimally. Also, navigating the patent granting process is a very complicated process, if one is going to do it in an optimum manner. Assistance is sometimes available from IP Offices. However, IP Offices are not independent and their advice tends to give you a way through the formalities of the procedure rather than the best way to write an application and substantively pursue an application. Those different options can be the difference between a patent that has a commercially useful scope and a patent that has a commercially useless scope. We have significant expertise in these procedures and can provide tailored advice.

What is the procedure? Do I just ask for a patent?

No. In the initial patent application "the scope" of a patent must be very well defined. An IP Office normally carry out a search and substantive examination to check if your invention as defined is novel and inventive. Your application must also comply with formal requirements. Once the IP Office's objections (if any) are overcome then you will be granted a patent. The patent should then be renewed typically until about 20 years after filing the application.

What if I do not have the means to make my invention?

A patent can be licensed or assigned, often within the general industry to which the patent relates. In that way, you can benefit from a third party making your invention.

If I have a patent can I put the patented product on the market without any concerns?

In theory, no. It is possible a third party has a patent to an earlier form of your invention for example. Accordingly, if you intend to put a product on the market, patented or not, it is prudent for a search through other people's patents to be carried out. However, having a patent to cover your idea or improvement can put you in a better position. For example, you and the earlier patent owner may cross licence the basic invention and the improvement to each other.