The Top Facts You should Know before Applying for a Patent in the UK

You may have a great idea for a system, a great design for a new consumer product, or something similar that could be of great use to you, society, and the commercial market. However, no matter how wonderful your design or idea may be, it has no commercial value if you have no patent on it – if you do not have it registered as intellectual property.

Legally speaking, the idea or design belongs to you from the moment of conception, but in the real world it’s unwise to rely on that – you need proof. Practically speaking, you need that written confirmation that casts all shadows of doubt away; that proves the invention is yours, that you own it. Here are the top facts you should know before applying for a patent in the UK.

Is it valuable?

In 2005, experts in patenting conducted a study to see which patents were applied for, and what their real value truly was. The study found something extraordinary: more than half the value of all patents were found in less than 1% of all patents – meaning that, whilst there were a lot of patents filed (and granted), only a very small portion of it actually had financial benefit. Applying for a patent – and going through the approval process – requires money and time, so make sure your patent will have economic benefits in the long run. Have a business plan ready.

Is it new?

There are plenty of resources available such as patent software from to search the databases of the patent office – make use of it and see if there isn’t something similar out there that exists. It may be new to you, but it’s very common to find it already exists (and therefore have your patent application denied).

Consult a professional

Though it is not mandatory, your chances of getting a patent approved are much better when you hire a solicitor whose expertise is intellectual property, and who is familiar with the requirements of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Although they do charge for their services, there are regular IP clinics around the UK where you can receive free basic advice from professionals.

Whilst waiting

Assuming your patent application is approved, it will be published 18 months after you have filed all the formal requirements – and that’s a long time to wait. Bear in mind: publishing does not mean getting your patent approved. The approval could actually take a couple of years. What do you do in the meantime? Often, confidentiality agreements are a good way to go for business negotiations. If appearances for the product are important, a registered trademark may do the trick.


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