Patent your invention
A patent protects your invention and lets you take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports your invention without your permission.
You can apply for patent protection in the UK through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
Check if a patent is the right protection for your intellectual property.
How to apply
- Search for similar patents to make sure your invention is new.
- Prepare your patent application.
- File your patent application and request a search from the IPO.
- Receive your search report (usually within 6 months) and decide whether you want to continue with your application.
- Your application will be published 18 months after you file it.
- Ask for a ‘substantive examination’ within 6 months of publication.
- Respond to comments from IPO’s ‘substantive examination’. The examination may take place several years after you file your application.
- Your application will be granted or refused.
You can commercially benefit from your patent once its been granted, eg license, sell or mortgage your patent.
Don’t make your invention public before you apply. You may not be able to patent it, or it could make your patent invalid.
It’s up to you to defend your patent and keep it up to date.
Get professional advice
Getting a patent can be complicated and expensive – especially if you apply for an international patent.
You can get professional advice by speaking in confidence to a patent attorney or other professional advisor.
You may not be able to patent your invention if it becomes public beforehand. Use a non-disclosure agreement if you need to talk to anyone else about your invention, eg potential manufacturers or financial backers.
How long it takes
It typically takes 3 to 4 years for a patent to be granted.
You may be able to get your patent granted more quickly.
How long it lasts
A patent can last for 20 years from the date you apply for it.
Other ways to get a UK patent
You can also file a UK patent application through:
Your invention has to be:
- new – search for similar or identical patents
- inventive – not just an obvious modification to something that already exists
- something that can be made or used
You can’t patent:
- literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
- schemes, rules or methods – including medical treatment methods
- anything that’s solely an idea, eg a way of thinking, a scientific or mathematical discovery
- new types of plants, seeds or animals
- the way information is presented
- some computer programs
A patent application is made up of 4 parts that need to meet specific criteria.
You must include:
- a description of your invention that allows others to see how it works and how it could be made
- drawings to illustrate your description
- legal statements that set out the technical features of your invention that are to be protected (known as ‘claims’)
- a summary of all the important technical aspects of your invention (known as the abstract)
Read the patents application guide for instructions on how to produce each part of your application.
You have to submit your description and drawings with your application form.
You can file your claims and abstract once your patent is pending, but it’s best if you submit all the parts together.
You can send academic papers as part of your patent application, to help describe your invention.
You still need to send a description, drawings and claims.
‘Statement of inventorship’
You need to complete a statement of inventorship if:
- you’re not the inventor
- there’s more than one inventor
- you’re applying on behalf of a company
The statement provides Intellectual Property Office (IPO) with more information about who the inventor is and why you have the right to apply for the patent.
You can also download the ‘statement of inventorship’ form and send it with your application.