Patents information for consumers and small businesses
Patents are national rights protecting inventions. When granted they give you the right to stop other people exploiting your invention without your consent. In return for this right, your invention has to be carefully described in a written document, which is made available to the public. Each country has its own registration system and sets its own application fees and other requirements for obtaining a patent. You must file a patent application in each country you require protection, but there are ways of both deferring and reducing the costs of those filings. The timetable and cost of obtaining patent protection therefore varies according to:
- How broad are the potential applications of your invention
- The complexity of the technology
- How many countries you want to include in the scope of protection
Typically, an individual consumer or small business will ask us about a UK patent application, that is, an application for a patent protecting an invention against exploitation by others in the UK. We have therefore given an illustration of the process, timetable, and costs for this below.
UKIPO means the UK Intellectual Property Office, the government body that deals with patents and other intellectual property. Other countries have their own similar organisations (collectively, Patent Offices).
Examiner means the official at the UKIPO who reviews your application and responds with any objections that you will have to overcome before it is acceptable; and Examination means the process conducted by the Examiner.
Stages in a UK patent application
We will handle the full process for you:
- Advising you on whether your invention is likely to be accepted by the UKIPO, including where appropriate a pre-filing search
- Drafting a patent application, covering your invention
- Preparing any necessary technical drawings
- Filing the patent application at the UKIPO
- Requesting preliminary examination and search at the UKIPO
- Advising you further when the UKIPO issue their initial report, which gives an indication of your chances of success
- Requesting Examination of the application by the UKIPO
- Corresponding with the UKIPO about the substance of your application including answering technical and legal objections; typically two or more rounds of correspondence are required to achieve grant of your patent application
- Reporting publication of your application and grant of your patent, forwarding the Certificate of Grant, and remaining the Address for Service noted on the official register (which means we will receive and forward to you any official communications from the UKIPO about your patent).
How much will it cost?
The cost for all the work required for the above stages of obtaining a granted UK patent typically start at £10,000 plus VAT; these costs will be spread over three or four years, but you should expect costs in the first year of at least £7,000 plus VAT. These costs include our professional fees and disbursements. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Patent Office fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process, and to avoid rights being lost for failure to pay those fees in a timely manner.
Normally, the disbursements we will need to pay on your behalf are:
- Pre-filing search fees, which will typically be £450 plus VAT
- Patent application fee £60
- Official search fee £150 plus additional fee of £20 for each claim in excess of 25
- Examination fee £100 plus additional fee of £10 for each page in excess of 35
The actual cost of filing a UK patent application and achieving grant will depend on your circumstances, and can range from £10,000 to £20,000 plus VAT or more for particularly complex and critical cases.
For most of our professional services we charge based on the amount of time taken to complete the work. Our hourly rates are primarily based on the seniority and experience of the professional staff involved and currently range from £165 for a paralegal to £440 for a senior partner.
To maintain your patent in force you will also need to pay government renewal fees. In most cases the maximum period for which you can use your patent to control exploitation of your invention is twenty years. Details of the current renewal fees for UK patent applications are available on the UKIPO website. You can either arrange for these to be paid yourself or we can provide the relevant details to a renewals agency who will pay them on your behalf.
How long will my patent application take?
We can normally complete the drafting of your initial UK patent application within about four weeks after receiving your instructions. However, the complete process of obtaining grant of a UK patent application will take from three to four years and the timetable will depend on a number of factors. These include the complexity of your invention, the number of objections raised by the UKIPO Examiner, and any interventions made by your competitors.
Potential additional costs
If developments are made to your invention(s) after the first application is filed then you may wish to ask us to amend the initial patent specification in the first 12 months after the application, so that any subsequent applications filed can include the new subject-matter. The additional cost depends entirely on how much new material has to be included, but a rough guide is £2,000 to £3,000.
Additional fees will be payable for the steps necessary to extend your patent protection to other countries. These fees will include local Patent Office fees, the costs of written translations to the local language, the professional fees of local expert firms we instruct on your behalf, and our fees for coordinating the whole process and keeping you informed. These additional fees vary from country to country and can be significantly more than the ranges given above. We can give you advice and cost estimates once we have discussed your plans for exploiting your invention.
More information about the likely costs and timetable in your case
Each case is different, and we cannot give you an accurate cost estimate or an indication of the likely timetable until we know more about your invention. We offer a no-obligation, free initial consultation with one of our attorneys, of half an hour or so, which will enable us to give you more information about your specific case, and then to provide you with a written cost estimate, and timetable, for the necessary work.
It is important that you keep details of your invention confidential, as you will not be able to obtain a patent if the invention has been disclosed. In our dealings with you, our professional code of conduct (see below) includes the necessary obligation of confidentiality. Our initial consultation will be confidential, whether or not you decide to work with us.
How is the patent profession regulated and what professional indemnity insurance is in place?
Our firm is regulated by IPReg, and is subject to its Rules of Conduct. IPReg sets standards of training before a person can be admitted to the register and also requires Continuing Professional Development to ensure an attorney’s professional skills are kept up to date.
We have insurance that extends to acts and omissions wherever they occur in the world. Our limit of liability is appropriate for a firm of our scope and standing. Further details are available on request. Our insurer is Pamia Limited, whose address is 90 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4ST.
IPReg has also put in place an insurance policy that may provide additional protection in the event of dishonesty or fraudulent use of client money.