Registering a patent
If your logo comprises words and the design itself is valuable to your business, it is advisable to apply separately to protect both the words and the logo.
Stage 1 – Searching
The beginning of the patent application process actually occurs well in advance of the actual filing. It's crucial to verify that the invention remains confidential, meaning any disclosures to third parties were kept private. Additionally, conducting a pre-filing search can be beneficial. If the inventor is operating in an unfamiliar field, a private search can identify any prior art that may indicate the invention is not new or lacks inventiveness. By doing so, the inventor can avoid squandering their hard-earned money on a patent application that is doomed to fail.
Stage 2 – Drafting
Crafting a patent application can be a challenging endeavor. While I won't delve into the specifics, the primary goals are to provide sufficient description and claim coverage for the invention. Typically, the patent application requires a combination of technical proficiency from the inventor and legal expertise from the patent attorney. Once the application has been submitted, no new information can be appended. As a result, it's critical to ensure that the invention is thoroughly described and claimed, with all conceivable variations disclosed.
Stage 3 – Filing
After the application has been completed, it is submitted to the UK Intellectual Property Office, also known as the Patent Office. Once submitted, the application is assigned a unique number and filing date, which holds significant importance. From this date forward, the applicant can openly publish the invention without it impacting the application. Typically, a search request is filed, and the search and application fees are paid at this stage. In some instances, where the applicant desires to accelerate the process, they can file a request for examination and submit the examination fee.
Stage 4 – Preliminary Examination
The UK Intellectual Property Office verifies whether the application is appropriately formatted and the forms have been correctly filled out.
Stage 5 – Search
Several months after submission, the UK Intellectual Property Office will issue a search report. This report serves as an initial assessment of patentability and aims to uncover any prior art that may indicate the invention lacks novelty or inventiveness. No reply is necessary at this stage.
Stage 6 – International Filing
We will discuss this in a forthcoming blog post, but it's essential to note that applications submitted outside of the UK must be filed by the anniversary of the filing date, also referred to as the "priority" or "convention" deadline.
Stage 7 – Publication
The application cannot be published before 18 months from the filing date. This establishes a six-month deadline to submit a request for examination and pay the fee (if not already completed).
Stage 8 – Examination
After requesting examination, an examiner from the UK Intellectual Property Office will evaluate the search findings and determine if the application is eligible for granting a patent. If there are any concerns regarding the invention's patentability, the examiner will provide a report outlining their objections. Typically, the applicant will have four months to respond by either disputing the objections or amending the application to address them (e.g., by reducing the claimed protection scope). Additional rounds of examination may be necessary based on the objections and the applicant's willingness to consider the examiner's arguments.
Stage 9 – Grant
After the examiner is satisfied, they will send the application for granting a patent. This process can take approximately 3-4 years from the filing date! Once the patent has been granted, the applicant can enforce it against any infringers.
Stage 10 - Renewal fees
The patent's validity period is 20 years from the filing date, subject to the payment of annual renewals (beginning on the fourth anniversary of filing). To sum up, the patent application process is relatively straightforward, with the complexity lying in substantive law, especially the inventive step, and when seeking protection abroad. Vault IP is highly knowledgeable in this area, so please feel free to contact us if you encounter any issues obtaining your UK patent!