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What is a patent? Part 3

By John Rule.

Before applying for a patent application it is worth carrying out a search through published patents and other documents such as trade catalogues, you can carry out a search yourself, although the results might not be as comprehensive as you would want, or alternatively, we can conduct a search for you and provide an analysis of the results.

Professional help

The basis of a UK patent is a legal document called a ‘specification’.  Its content decides not only whether a patent can be granted, but also exactly what the rights of any patent granted cover.

You can prepare a specification and apply for a patent yourself, but if you do not know a lot about patent issues, we recommend you seek professional help.  We can advise you whether your idea is appropriate for patent protection and prepare an application for you.  In addition to our legal qualifications experience our patent attorneys have also acquired a broad range of technical knowledge. We offer initial consultation which typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes free of charge; however we do recommend that you are well prepared before the consultation in order to get the most out of it. 

The strength of a patent is affected by how well it has been drafted, and as it is both a technical and legal document, it should be drafted by an expert.

Applying for a patent

UK patents are granted either by the UK Intellectual Property Office or by the European Patent Office as a result of a European patent application filed under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

Provided the invention is a secret, you can apply for a patent at any time, it is worth bearing in mind that if the application is delayed, there is a risk that someone else might come up with the same idea and make a patent application themselves.However, if an application is made too early there is a risk that the invention may not be fully developed in addition there may not be sufficient detail to disclose to third parties how your invention may be put into practice, this is something that we could discuss in an initial consultation.


The UK Intellectual Property Office charge fees for processing a UK patent application.  Some fees are reduced if you use the e-filing service, which we do for all of our clients to reduce costs and obtain an immediate filing receipt.

Typically our professional fees for drafting and filing a UK patent depend upon the complexity of the invention and the number of variations.  We would give you an estimate of costs before undertaking any work.  In many cases we can provide fixed cost drafting service usually we can give you some indication of costs during an initial consultation.

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