Why file a patent?

by Dr Susan Fridd, EPA BSc (Hons), PhD Associate Patent Attorney, Barker Brettell LLP

Why file a patent?

Patents can be a crucial asset for your business, whether it is large or small, just beginning or well established. If you have an invention, and want to stop others from using it, a patent could be what you need.

What is a patent?
A patent is a right which protects how an invention works. You can use a patent to stop competitors from making, selling, using or importing something which works in the same way. A patent can last for up to twenty years, and can provide you with a real commercial advantage over competing businesses.

Do I need one?
You don’t need a patent in order to use your invention. However, there are some important commercial reasons why you should consider applying for one before you do. Crucially, a patent can provide you with a monopoly to make, sell and import your invention, and can give you the right to exclude your competitors from doing those things. A patent can also increase the value of your business and help you gain investment.

How do I get one?
To obtain a patent you need to file a patent application at the national Patent Office of the country in which you want to obtain the patent – in the UK this is the UK Intellectual Property Office. Your patent application needs to include a full description of how your invention works, drawings showing the invention, and a set of claims which define the scope of protection you want to obtain. The Patent Office will then examine the application, including carrying out a search to look for similar inventions. If the Patent Office is satisfied that your invention is new and inventive it will grant you a patent.

Why should I use a patent attorney if I can file myself?
Patent applications are legal documents, and how well they are written affects how useful the resulting patents will be. New information cannot be added into a patent application after it has been filed, which means that it is very important to get the wording right first time. At Barker Brettell LLP all our patent attorneys have many years’ experience in preparing patent applications and dealing with Patent Offices around the world. We will use our experience to benefit you, by writing a document designed to predict challenges the Patent Office might raise during examination, in order to obtain you the broadest protection we can.

Important things to remember…
A patent can only be obtained for an invention which is new. This means that telling even one other person about your invention could jeopardise your chances of obtaining a patent.
It is therefore extremely important to keep your invention completely secret until you have filed a patent application. If you do need to discuss your invention with others this can be done by keeping the discussions confidential.

A patent does not provide you with a right to use your invention – it is a right to stop others, not a right to use. If your invention makes use of someone else’s patented invention, they could potentially use their patent to stop you from using yours.

A patent protects how something works. If your invention relates to the appearance of a product, or to its
branding, you might want to consider design, copyright or trademark protection instead.

Barker Bretell LLP are experts in their field and can certainly answer your question – why file a patent?  as well as on any of the other aspects of intellectual property. Barker Brettell LLP offers a full range of intellectual property services, and we are always happy to take the time to tailor our services to your needs.

Dr Susan Fridd, EPA BSc (Hons), PhD Associate Patent Attorney Barker Brettell LLP