Key Facts about Patents

Patents are used to protect an idea like a gadget or a chemical formula. Once a patent has been granted it means that you have twenty years exclusive rights to use and sell the idea. You can stop anyone else selling products based on the idea in the country where the patent has been granted.

To find out if your idea can be patented just click on the Free Pack button above to get a Pack including our Confidentiality Agreement. You don't need to have a prototype to apply for a patent. Just a clear description.

You can then enter the details online or email them back to us. Our free services include a Patent Search Tool.

We can research your idea and if it is unique we may be able to help you commercialise it. See our How to Apply for a Patent page to see how to do it.

Generally speaking a patent can only be granted for a single country so there is no such thing as a worldwide patent. However under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), to which most countries have agreed, you can use the same patent application in multiple countries.

For a patent to be granted the idea must satisfy the following conditions;

1. It must be a new idea that does not exist already anywhere in the world. We can confirm this with a Patent Search.

2. It must have a new feature that is not obvious to somebody who knows about the technology involved.
    We can provide Technical Advice.

3. It must be capable of being used in a practical device that can be used for a practical purpose.
    We can provide Commercial Advice.

4. It must not be an excluded subject such as a mathematical formula or software or something that occurs in nature.
    Software is protected by Copyright
Two Stroke Engine - patents cover machines
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Patent Searches

To satisfy the novelty condition it is necessary to search all the existing patents for similar ideas. The Patent Examiner will decide whether the ideas are the same. Our patent search tries to find any similar patents first. Click the button above to get one of our Free Packs that contain our Confidentiality Agreement.

Technical Advice

A feature that is not obvious excludes things that are just improvements to an existing design. For example changing the gears on a bicycle to make it better for off-road use would be obvious to anyone who knows anything about bicycles. We can give you technical advice.

Patents are granted to improve the economic development of a country's industry so an idea that has no economic benefit to anyone will not be granted.

A patent can protect how your idea works. It can protect what it is made of, and even how it is made. It does not protect the appearance of your idea. For that you must register a Design Right. You cannot patent a natural event or discovery. For example you could not patent the fact that a prism splits light into many colours. However you could patent a formula for a type of glass that did it more effectively. You cannot patent a mathematical formula or other 'mental act' and this condition prevents software from being patented. Software is protected by Copyright.

Patent Costs

A patent costs from 230 if you apply online yourself but it there are many steps in the process. We have summarised the key steps on How to Apply for a Patent.  You do not need a prototype to apply for a patent.

If you use our Discovery Review Service we can help you with the process as you are automatically registered with our Advice Service. We have explained an example patent application and you can see it by clicking here. To find out more about the Application Process see our Patent Process explanation.

What To Do Next

Keep the idea secret! Have a professional patent search conducted before you invest any money in your idea to make sure that the idea is not already owned by someone else.  We can do this for you. Download our Discovery Review Pack from Free Pack button above and we will send you more information. 

We have summarised the Patent Application Process and the costs of a Patent Application and you can find out more by clicking here.

Our Enterprise Advice service provides access to Help and Advice on the Patent Process as well as Technical Advice about making things work and building prototypes. Read More >>>

To see a typical Patent Application please Click Here.

To understand more about how to patent a product and what a patent costs or the patenting process and patent law in general, see our Dummies Guide to Intellectual Property written by our experts.

Our free online services include our Patent Search Tools. Click the button to register.

See our How to Apply for a Patent page for more information.Get a Free Discovery Pack