You’ve had a brilliant idea. You want to get it out there, but you can’t just start releasing your product. You need to make sure that you have the right protection in place first. Without patents, someone could steal your idea and make a fortune off of it before you do. The process may seem daunting at first, but this guide will walk you through the process from beginning to end and answer all of your questions along the way.
- First, we need to know What is a patent?
A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for public disclosure of an invention. This allows the inventor to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the invention without permission. Typically, a patent is granted in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention.
There are generally five categories that we commonly see in a patent application. Together, the categories are REPS, SEs, POIs, ANDs, and ORs. Before we go into the specific rights granted by a patent, it’s important to understand why each of these categories exists, to begin with.
As referenced above, a patent is an agreement between a patent holder and the U.K. government giving them exclusive rights to their invention for specified periods of time. The patent holder gives up some of their First Amendment rights, such as the right to free speech and anonymous speech, in exchange for this exclusive right. There are some exceptions to the rules outlined above; we’ll look at those shortly. [Note: Patent applications are voluntary; if a patent is not granted, neither party is obligated to pay for the filing fee or the filing of a patent.]
As previously stated, a patent is an “offer” by the patentee to the U.K. government. The U.K. government may decide to do without your permission and protect the ability of others to make, use, sell, or import your invention. In exchange, the U.K. government requires the patentee to allow others to make, use, sell, or import the patented invention for non-commercial purposes. In other words, you have to allow others to do things that you also want done. This is how most people understand the concept of Compulsory Licensing.
This is made possible by the REPS, the Specification for Requesting Application of a Provisional Patent, and the SEs, the Specification for Standard Essential Patent. If your idea is relatively simple; such as a transfer of real estate, the SEs section will tell the Patent Office whether your idea needs to be explained, simplified, or illustrated.
2. How to get a provisional patent
If you think you’re going to need to file a patent, the process of getting a provisional patent is a good way to go. A provisional patent gives you one year to file the full patent without having to go back to the drawing board. This can be helpful when you need to get the ball rolling on something and are considering utilizing one of the more risky tactics in the “get-rich-quick” realm of organic search marketing. It also gives you more time to ensure that your idea is truly novel and not simply copied, which will help your chances of getting a full patent.
Read More: What Is a Patent?
A Quick Summary of the Protection Feats that a Patent Can Grant
Protected Innovative Technology
Protected Innovative Technology is a category that contains additional elements that make a highly unique and valuable piece of intellectual property. The U.K. Patent and Trademark Office (UKIPO) defines these elements as falling under the definition of “new product filing” but many refer to these modifiers as including sections entitled “processing”, “methods”, “design” or “methods and systems.”
In order to qualify for protection under the protected innovation doctrine, your UKIPO must find that your technology was novel and not merely “the latest and greatest” or “similar to [something else].” The process must further take into account the amount and significance of the newness and the deterrent of the prior art. The aggregate of these elements provides a plaintiff who can attain a trademark or other similar rights in the name of your wonder. Additionally, your newness must be slight. For example, if your newness is only slightly greater than the staleness of a competing trademark, you may not be eligible to receive trademark registration.
3. How to get a non-provisional patent
To get a non-provisional patent on your invention, you have to file a patent application with the UKIPO and pay a couple of fees. The application will be reviewed by an examiner who will determine whether it meets the requirements of the patent laws. If the requirements are met, the examiner will issue a patent with a patent number and an issue date. This date is usually an expiration date, but it can be extended if necessary.
If you file for a patent on your invention, it stays on file with the UKIPO until you voluntarily surrender ownership of the patent, decide not to renew it, or die. Once you receive the copyright, however, you can effectively license the copyright from the UKIPO to anyone.
Protections usually come with a non-exhaustive list of possible Infringement Claims.
Patentability. Patents cover inventions that are novel, useful, and non-obvious.
Patentable subject matter. The subject matter of a patent is the invention that the patent is describing. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, such as software, math, and scientific data, but for the most part, the subject matter of a patent should be considered non-empty.
Patentable claims. Patents can make claims about a concept, machine, method, computer, operating system, computer network, or container.
Patentable individual components. Patents can make claims about individual components of an invention, including circuits, cells, transistors, computer hardware, software, and the like. The rules change a bit to incorporate applications, encompass applications and isolated systems applications, but these limit the claims to the disclosed or claimed subject matter.
Invariant Patents. Invariant patents provide protection that extends from its filing date.
Non-Affective Delaware Chancery. Most states have an effective date that applies to all patent applications. However, non-Delaware Chancery laws go further and protect the validity of an application even if the patent has been filed before the effective date.
Electronic filing. Federal and state courts generally use the rules and procedures outlined by the UKIPO in electronic filing, and some state trial courts follow the same rules.
4. Why and how to file for international patents
Why should you file for patents in the UK and other countries? The UK is the largest market for tech products, but it’s not the only one. There are many other countries that have large markets for tech products including China, Japan, Korea, and Europe. Patents help protect these other markets.
For a technology that is imported into the UK (like products from China), there is a system in place that allows companies to get a patent on a certain term. Once the patent is granted, any company can make copies of the patent and sell them to other companies. For example, the idea for a phone may have been stolen and sold to Google, who may then copy the basic idea and create the Google Phone. However, once it reaches the UK and is sold to a company like Apple, the ownership stops with Apple. Someone in the UK is allowed to make a phone with that technology, but it is not allowed to be sold outside the UK.
Because other countries have systems where a company can file an application, software, or circuit for a patent, this means that there are non-UK based companies that may be able to get a patent on the exact same idea that you came up with. This means that your idea won’t be patented in both countries. If someone else comes across your idea later on and wants to patent it, they won’t be able to.
You can imagine that this is a fairly significant hurdle, but it also serves as a protection measure of sorts. Patents are what allow companies to invest in research and d
Once you have the right protection under copyright or patent law, a few other pieces come together to make your idea become a reality. You tell your company what you’re going to do, and they figure out a way to make your invention a reality.
5. The pros and cons of patents
Patents are essentially a legal way of protecting your idea. They aren’t meant to prevent you from making your idea public, but rather to prevent someone else from taking your idea and profiting from it before you do. One of the cons of patents is that they can be expensive to get and difficult to maintain. They can also be difficult to enforce. Patents are certainly not the only thing that you need to consider when creating your idea-Patents are not a license to your idea-but they are incredibly important.
I’ve taken the time to write this detailed guide to help you understand how to properly and cheaply protect your idea. It will cover everything from which type of patents are desirable, in what circumstances you can get them, how to protect your idea, designing the best patents that you can get, protecting your IP, and much more. The guide isn’t meant to be comprehensive. I only have experience with IP and design — however, I’ve been helping startups use patents for a few years now, so I know what it takes to do the job properly.
What I will say, however, is that developing good IP can save you time having to deal with patents, and can take your idea from a trade secret to something that is useful to the public.
Ok let’s start with some definitions
So when I say IP, what do I mean by it?
Patents basically give you the right to do something for the benefit of everyone else, for free.
How is that beneficial to others?
If you are an idea-creator, then patents give you the right to sell your ideas for the benefit of everyone else, outside of your own company. Basically, patents make it so that others can’t copy or profit off of your idea without your permission. You can effectively defend any idea you have. If there is an awareness of a patent, it is much easier to get it enforced than it would be if each person who does anything with your idea knew about the patent from the start.