How To Make A Patent Application In The UK

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A patent is an exclusive right that protects new inventions and provides solutions to existing problems. A patent explains how the invention works and is the description of best mode of an invention. The common public will know about the inventions and solutions when they are publicly disclosed in form of a patent application. A patent plays an important role for a patent owner/applicant/assignee as it provides the owner the rights to take a legal action against those who make, use, sell, import without his permission/license.  

In this innovative world, inventions are made at a high rate and correspondingly many patents are filed. The responsibility of patent office’s increases to meet the demands of the innovators. In United Kingdom (UK), the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is responsible for granting patents and dealing with patent process. 

Table of Contents

Steps of Applying a Patent 

A patent is granted when the invention is unique and is not disclosed anywhere before the filing date. A patent should be novel, non-obvious, must have inventive step and it should be useful. The preparation of patent application involves multiple steps.  

1. Making a Patent Application

The first step in the process of making a patent application which involves drafting or preparing a patent specification. The patent application comprises detailed description of the invention explained in multiple pages. The detailed description section covers multiple aspects/versions of the invention along with drawings. In case, the invention is related to electronic equipment, machinery and chemical processes, a greater number of pages will be required.  

The claims are the most important part of the complete specification of the patent application. The claims define the scope of the protection granted by the patent and further describe the invention in legal and technical manner/terms. The claims are revenue generator as they decide which products/companies are infringing a patented invention. While framing the claims, it is very important to write multiple embodiments of the invention and defining the scope as broad as possible to broaden the scope of claim. In prosecution phase, claims might suffer rejection and amendments in the claims can be done as per the scope of specification. Hence, it becomes very important to write description covering multiple pages and multiple embodiments.  

Further, the invention must be typically an apparatus, product, manufacturing process but should not be in excluded category such as scientific theories, mathematical methods, and the presentation of information etc. So, by checking these things, one can file application in the patent office.

2. Checking validity of invention 

The next step involves filing the patent application in the patent office. Before filing, it is very important to do some homework by conducting a prior art search. The objective of this exercise is to know how much work has been done in domain and if there are arts that can stop the invention. By knowing such arts, we can amend our descriptions and claims and define the scope accordingly.  

Patent Application In The UK

3. Initial Application Filing 

Once our application is ready, one can file application it to the Intellectual Property Office. The filing can be done online or by filling an invention in a form and emailing/ sending the invention by post. The fee is paid to IPO for initial processing of application and carrying out the search and ‘substantive examination’ of the application. Once the application is filed, IPO checks whether the documents needed for the filing are sufficient. If the documents are not sufficient or the fee is not paid, IPO notifies the applicant, failing the application gets terminated. 

4. Search, Publication and Substantive Examination 

After the application is received by a patent office, an examination is carried to check whether the filed application meet the requirements of UK patent laws. This examination is performed by paying fee by applicant/owner at IPO. The search for the invention is carried out in 6 months and the examiner locates the prior arts that will help to determine whether the invention is innovative or not.  

In case the application is ok to proceed, and the formal objections reported in the preliminary examination are overcome by the applicant, the application is published after 18 months from the filing date of patent. Hence, the whole invention will be open to public and any person can comment, raise objection on the patentability of the invention.  

After the application is published, substantive examination within 6 months from publication is requested by applicant/assignee. It can be requested by paying fee for the examination within a deadline defined by IPO. The purpose of this examination is to compare detailed contents of a patent application against prior arts to determine whether the invention is patentable or not. If the application fulfills all the requirements, a letter that explains when your patent will be granted will be received. 

5. Granted Patent 

The patent application that meets all the requirement of the Patents Act 1977 and Patents Rules 2007 will be declared as a granted patent. The Intellectual Property Office will grant the patent and publish the application in the final form and gives a certificate of grant of the patent. The UK patent allows owner to have rights of invention for 20 years by paying renewal fees every year. The twenty-year time is divided into two periods, 1-5 years, and 15-20 years. Once patent is applied, exclusive license is given for first 5 years (i.e., from application filing) after which renewal is needed.  

Things to consider in Application Process

Proper homework should be done with proper searching on paid databases before filing a patent. The close results obtained will give patent drafter an idea that how to write the claims and broaden the invention scope. There is no harm in getting the best references before filing an application.  

One should make sure that invention should not be disclosed to anyone before filing or not publicly used.  

To make an application outside UK, proper strategy should be made. As an example, choosing the jurisdiction to target and how many applications are filed in a particular country will help to increase revenues.  

Before infringing someone, one must check whether the patent is valid or not because a granted patent can also be revoked. 

Advantages of Patent filing in UK

UK is one of the cost-effective countries for patent filing. The fee for filing a patent, performing search and examination is approximately £310 less as compared to fees in US and EP jurisdictions. 

The patent filed in UK Patent applications offers a high-quality search which tells the applicant/assignee of a patent to decide whether to proceed with the invention or not. This not only saves money for filing in UK but also stops a person to file in corresponding country if the invention is not novel. The UK patent can be used as the basis for grant in different countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Singapore, and the United States. 


The UK market is among the biggest European markets. By filing a patent in the UK, one can obtain a guaranteed search with low cost in a short span of time, block competitors to manufacture and sale in UK and generate a good revenue from infringements.  

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