Inventions can change the world. However, for every great invention, there are stories of people who have had their ideas stolen. If you have an invention to protect then the best move is to apply for a patent.
Before you apply
In some cases, a patent may not be necessary. In the case of a brand name or creative idea, you may need specific intellectual property (IP) protection as opposed to a patent.
Also, while this may sound obvious it is vital to do your research- there is a chance that your invention (or something similar) already exists, so filing a patent would not be appropriate. If you can’t see it in a typical search, check a database of published patents to be sure that your idea has not been covered.
Keep it quiet
Before the application, it is vital that you do not discuss the invention. This can be hard, as naturally, you would be excited, especially if people are offering to invest in it. A legal professional can draw up an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to make sure that an investor, marketing agency or other interested party does not pass on any information.
The application requires a written description of how it works, illustrations that show how it works, a statement that clearly states its distinct features (for legal purposes) and an abstract (summary of the technical aspects). Once you have done this, an advisor can fill in the form requesting a patent, or an additional form if you or an advisor and filing on behalf of someone else. While you can apply without the use of an advisor, it is strongly recommended as it is more likely to be granted.
It is also important to remember a UK patent only covers England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, within 12 months any other territories can be assigned the same “priority date” as the UK patent, something that could prove crucial in any legal dispute.
In some cases, different forms of IP protection may be more appropriate. Check with your advisor as they will be able to tell you what course of action would be best in different territories.
Once an application has been filed, there is a chance that marketing companies may get in touch with you. While there are companies that could be crucial in getting your invention out there, others may not be as reliable. As with any legal issue, make sure any agreements are properly checked with your advisor.
The motto behind Larcomes has always been “big enough to specialise, small enough to care” and this is especially important with something as personal as your own invention. If you would like a professionally designed NDA or want someone to guide you through the patent process in more detail, please contact our experienced legal team, who will be happy to tell you what you need to do and advise you on the best protection for your work.