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What is a patent? Parts 1-4

A patent is a limited monopoly that is granted in return for the disclosure of technical information. A patent is an intellectual property right which is granted as a territorial right for a limited period.

Patent rights make it illegal for anyone except the owner, or a third party with the owner’s permission, to make, use, import or sell the invention in the country where the patent was granted.

This downloadable PDF document details parts 1-3, along with part 4 detailing the UK application process including:

  • Maintaining patent rights
  • Enforcing patent rights
  • Patent marking
  • Patents as assets

Keeping ownership up to date

By John Rule

Mergers, acquisitions, divestments and other corporate transactions can lead to changes in ownership of IP. Where only small numbers of patents, patent applications, and other IP rights are transferred, recording the change in ownership can be relatively easy to handle. Even in these circumstances the process can be costly and time consuming if good practice is not followed.

In many jurisdictions it is a requirement that official registers of patents, trade marks and registered designs are kept up to date. Failure to do so can lead to negative consequences. For example, in the UK, if a new proprietor of a UK patent or new exclusive licensee of a patent fails to register their right in the patent within a certain time frame, in infringement proceedings they may suffer from not being able to have costs or expenses awarded in their favour.     

Confidentiality agreements

By John Rule.

One of the essential elements of protecting an invention is secrecy. It is vital that you do not discuss any part of your idea with anyone before applying for a patent to protect it. Disclosure (except under certain circumstances) is likely to render a later filed patent invalid and unenforceble because the disclosure may destroy the novelty of your invention. The person that you disclosed your invention to and other third parties could then go ahead and copy your invention with potentially serious financial consequences to your business.

Before discussing your invention or idea with anyone else if it hasn’t been protected by a patent application, and sometimes even if it has, you should have them sign a confidentiality agreement (also known as a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality disclosure agreement). These are legally binding documents.

Where should I patent my invention?

By Elizabeth Coulson.

To be patentable an invention must be new and must be inventive. Some things are not patentable for example methods of doing business and rules for games. We’ll need to discuss your invention in more detail with you to find out whether or not your invetion is patentable.

In the meantime you can get some idea of whether your invention is new by searching the patent documents in the following database: It is a good idea to carry out a search to see whether anyone else has already come up with your invention not only because your invention must be new in order to be patentable but also to check whether anyone else already has established rights in the invention. We can offer more help with searching and freedom to use checks.

Protecting your goods and services as your business grows

By Elizabeth Coulson.

As businesses grow, the range of products or services commercially marketed may expand beyond the goods and services originally listed in trade mark registrations obtained to protect those goods and services. Additionally, as plans are made to enter into new commercial markets in new territories, existing trade mark registrations may not serve to protect your business. Does your company review its trade mark rights to ensure that your business' current portfolio of products and services is actually protected?