The procedure for obtaining a patent in the UK can be broadly divided into five main stages: filing, search, publication, examination and grant.
Once the patent specification has been drafted and approved, it must be filed at the UKIPO. The application is filed online and is allocated a filing number and date. The filing date is important — once this has been set, you’ll be able to disclose details of the invention. The filing date also sets a 12-month deadline for filing patent applications outside the UK.
The UKIPO will conduct a search to identify any earlier patent documents that are relevant to your invention, and issue a report listing the documents found in the search. These documents are used to determine whether to grant the patent application. The search report is typically issued within four to six months of filing and provides a useful early indication of whether the invention will be patentable.
The patent application and search report are published around 18 months from the filing date. This is the first time anyone else will be able to see the content of your application. It is possible to prevent publication by withdrawing the application in good time before this date.
A UKIPO examiner will review the application and consider whether it meets the legal requirements of a patent. Particular consideration will be given to whether the invention is new and inventive in light of the documents identified in the search report.
If the examiner is happy that the invention is new and inventive, they’ll grant the application. Otherwise, a report will be issued that sets out the reasons the application failed. We then have an opportunity to present counter arguments, and/or amend the application, to address these issues.
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