Chartered Patent Attorneys
European Patent Attorneys
Trade Mark Attorneys
Patents Designs Trade Marks
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1 Sans Walk LONDON EC1R 0LT
Tel +44 (0) 20 7490 7090
Fax +44 (0) 20 3637 2038
E-mail info@gallafent.co.uk

The directors of Gallafents Ltd are UK registered Patent and/or Trade Mark Attorneys.

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© 2010-2016 Gallafents Ltd. GALLAFENTS and EUREKA are registered trade marks of Gallafents Ltd.

Patents

Gallafents Ltd is highly experienced in connection with all aspects of patents, in particular assisting clients in the identification of potentially patentable ideas, advising on the freedom of a client to make a product or perform a process, advising on the likelihood of success of proposed patent applications, obtaining, maintaining, licensing, and enforcing patents. We aim to work with each client to identify their unique patent and other intellectual property needs, and advise them how to meet those needs in any given situation. Such situations can include the provision of advice in response to a particular event, the provision of continuous review and support for a client’s product development activities, and/or intellectual property audits. We believe in the provision of clear, justified advice that is commercially relevant and useful to our client and their situation.

We set out below a short, very general, introduction to patents. Every patent situation is different and, as such, although we believe that the material below is generally relevant, we do not recommend relying on the information therein. If you have a particular issue in connection with which you would like our help, we invite you to contact us either via our online contact form, or via our other contact means which may be found here.

What Is A Patent?

Patents are a means to protect an invention, that is, a technical idea, most often a product or a process that leads to a product. A patent includes a set of claims or definitions which define what is protected.

Patents are granted by a national or international official body. A granted patent gives the owner the right to control who can make the product or use the idea or the process covered by the claims in the geographical area covered by the patent.

Why Patent?

The two most common reasons for patenting are:

a) It enables you to take action via the courts against someone else manufacturing a product, or using an idea or process, covered by the claims. Litigation is expensive, so the mere threat of litigation can be sufficient to enable a problem of “infringement” to be sorted out quickly and effectively.

b) It enables you to sell or licence the right to manufacture a product, or use an idea or process, covered by the claims of a patent to someone else. This option may be attractive if you do not have the facilities to make a product or carry out an idea or process yourself.

ESSENTIALS

If you think a patent is something in which you are interested, then the first thing to remember is that it is, with a few very limited exceptions, essential that the invention is “novel” when you apply for a patent. “Novel” means that it has not been disclosed to anyone (other than in confidence) before you apply for a patent. Talking to Gallafents Ltd or any other patent attorney is, by virtue of our professional position, deemed to be a confidential disclosure. We can advise on strategies to reconcile the need to file an application before disclosing the invention with maximising the geographical scope of the coverage of the application.

It is also a requirement for a valid patent that the idea is inventive (not obvious to someone who is experienced in the field of the invention), and that the idea is capable of industrial use.

It is also worth remembering that in order to secure a patent you need to disclose the thinking behind your invention, and that this is published shortly after 18 months from when you first apply for the patent.

Applying For A Patent

To apply for a patent the applicant needs to file an application at the relevant national or international office. That application will ultimately be required to adopt a certain formal structure and include a set of claims. Generally, an application will also include a description of the invention and one or more examples to show how the invention operates in practice.

After an application has been filed, and provided the relevant fees are paid, the office at which the application was filed will search their collections of technical materials and, in a fairly general way, indicate whether they think the claims are novel and/or inventive. The applicant is then required to indicate whether they wish to continue (often by filing a further form and paying more fees). If they do wish to continue, the office will perform a more detailed review of the application, and either indicate that the application is allowable, or raise objections to the application. The applicant (or their representatives) is/are given the opportunity to respond to those objections with a view to persuading the office that the application does meet the criteria, or amending the application so that it does. If an applicant does not wish to continue with an application at any time, the application process can simply be terminated at that stage.

How Long Will It Take?

The patent application process is unlikely to take less than 18 months from start to finish and may well take considerably longer (many years). The exact length of time will depend, amongst other things, on the field of technology in which the invention is made, what country(s) an application has been filed in, what objections an application faces and sometimes how hard the applicant or inventor wants to argue the matter rather than concede.

For the first 18 months after the first application for a claimed invention is filed the application is not published by any patent office with which the application has been filed. Thereafter, the or each office will publish the details of the application.

After Grant?

Once granted a patent may stay in force for a maximum period of time, usually 20 years from the date of application, assuming that renewal fees (usually payable annually) are paid.

Patent Protection Overseas

We can advise on strategy, cost and timing; Please read our information about Patent Protection Overseas for a general overview of an approach to be taken.

Valuation

A granted patent can be a valuable asset. A granted patent does not, however, mean that the invention protected thereby is of value or that there is a commercial need for the invention.

Charges

Identifying potentially patentable ideas, advising on the freedom of a client to make a product or perform a process, checking the likely validity of proposed applications, obtaining, maintaining, licensing, and enforcing patents are all areas where we can help. As with all registered intellectual property rights, patents are commercial tools and acquiring them may not cost as little as a client might wish, but they may be valuable assets once secured. You can try and apply yourself, but we believe we add more value than we charge. Our charges are calculated on the basis of standard charges for certain standard activities, and on the basis of time spent for other activities. We will provide estimates of our charges for proposed activities either when we propose them, or upon request.

If a client does decide that, at the beginning of the innovation/product development process, they do wish to apply for a patent themselves, then we are happy to offer our Eureka® Service which is intended to provide some assistance / guidance at a low fixed cost.