Illustrated plainly: patent process 101

An illustrated video on how to protect ideas and innovation, and what you need to know if you're thinking of filing for a patent.

Video  \  27 Sep 2017

Let’s say you’ve come up with a clever idea that has lots of potential. What should you do next?

The first step is to keep it a secret. Put your idea into the cone of silence. If you need to tell others about it, only tell them what your invention can do, not how it works. Otherwise, a spy might be able to put one plus one together to figure it out. If you need external input to develop your idea, it’s best to ask the third party to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you engage them.

Once your idea has evolved a bit further it’s time to seek professional advice about IP protection from an IP lawyer or patent attorney. Let’s assume a patent is the most desirable form of protection. Before you file a patent, it’s important to conduct a search to learn about the likely scope of protection. If the search finds your invention isn’t new, a patent application may be worthless, but let’s assume the search comes back clear and the closet product found is only vaguely similar to yours. This means you should be able to get a patent for your invention.

The process is started by filing a patent application. This gives you a priority date and a 12 month window before you need to take further steps. If you make any changes or improvements to your invention in that time, sometimes they can be added to your patent specification. At some stage after 12 months, your patent application will be examined by the local patent office which can then lead to a granted patent.

And what about the spy who was trying to put one plus one together? If they file an application a day after you, you have priority and can sue them for patent infringement.

So, if in doubt, remember the cone of silence and early advice from an IP expert.

If you need plain English advice on patents, get in touch with one of our experts.