Securing a patent for your tech product is crucial for protecting your product ideas during the development process to avoid copying This process can take months or years but is worth it to keep others from copying your work.
Why Does Your Company Need a Patent?
Obtaining a patent is a defensive measure that companies can take to protect their intellectual property. Patents are valuable for tech startups because they can stop other companies from using your technology to develop a competitive product. This includes physical products, softwares, technology, cybersecurity, AI products, or similar.
Additionally, they can act as a revenue stream if another company wants to use your technology as they would have to buy a license from you. This, in turn, could generate valuable business partnerships for the future.
To apply for a tech patent in the UK, you will need to follow certain procedures. First, you will need to prepare your patent application and request a search from the Intellectual Property Office. Typically, you will receive the search report within six months, at which point you can decide whether or not to continue with your application. 18 months after you file your report, your application will be published.
Within 6 months of publication, you can ask for a ‘substantive examination’ which checks if your invention is unique enough and that your description and claims are appropriate. It will also let you know if your application meets the legal guidelines. After this, you can modify the application accordingly before the final submission.
Initial Patent Application
In order to secure a patent, you first need to file an application. This is made up of 4 parts.
First you need to ensure that your product or invention is actually new by searching to see if there are similar products already available. If you are sure that what you are offering is new, you need to supply a description of your invention or products including how it works and how it could be made.
Then you will need to specify the ‘claims’, a legal statement to outline which technical features would need to be protected. Finally, you will need to provide an ‘abstract’ which is a summary of any important technical aspects of your idea. Any diagrams or drawings to illustrate your description should also be included.
How Much Does it Cost?
In the UK, patent applications typically cost around £4,000. It is worth noting that the fees are higher if the description in your patent application has more than 35 pages if you are trying to include more than 25 claims. However, initial spending on a patent could prevent the cost of astronomic patent lawsuits in the future.
Working with a tech patent attorney or advisor can ensure that you are preparing your application properly. This could save time and money in the future as you cannot modify the application once it has been sent. These professionals will maximise your chances of being granted a patent and try to make it as commercially valuable as possible.
Once you have applied for a patent, there will be a long waiting period until you receive the final decision. In the meantime, you can mark your invention as ‘patent pending’ or ‘patent applied for’ using the patent number or web address.
Limitations of a Patent
The one thing a patent cannot do is protect your company from infringement of other patents. This means that even if you own a patent on your technology, your company may still be liable for infringement of existing patents.