Design Image
Design Image
Design Image

What is a patent? Part 1

By John Rule.

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.

A UK patent has a life of 20 years provided that the renewal fees are paid every year, and provides protection in the UK only.

Patents generally cover products or processes that contain novel functional or technical aspects.  They are concerned with:

  • 1) how things work
  • 2) how they are made
  • 3) what they are made of

To obtain protection outside the UK it is necessary to apply to patent offices in the individual countries of interest or alternatively, patent protection can be gained in most European countries by filing an application for a European Patent under the European Patent Convention (EPC). You may wish to consider using the international patent system, known as the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) to streamline the patent application process in multiple jurisdictions around the world and reduce costs.

Coulson & Rule can offer you advice on which of these routes is most appropriate when seeking protection overseas.


This news item may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not contain legal advice.