Process & Timeline
The following is an outline of the main stages in the process of obtaining a patent, from starting to write the application until grant of a patent. It is a fairly long process and usually takes several years, the limiting factor being the time taken by patent offices to examine the vast number of applications that they receive each year. However, there are ways for us to speed the process up and getting a patent granted within a year is not unheard of where there is an urgent need (in the UK at least). It should also be noted that the invention is “patent pending” from the date of filing and that patent applications can be dealt with as property in the same way as granted patents. This means they can bought, sold, licensed and mortgaged. The following applies specifically to “first filing” patent applications – the timescales change to some extent for patent applications that are linked to one or more earlier applications.
-1 monthDrafting(1 week to 1 month, depending on urgency and the complexity of the invention)
We will write a description of the invention in the correct format and formulate the patent claims with help from you. The description must make the invention reproducible for the skilled reader and the claims define the extent of protection that you are applying for. We ensure that the claims cover future developments and variations of your invention as far as possible. We also aim to anticipate possible objections from the patent office at this stage so that the subsequent procedure is as quick and cost effective as possible.
Once a final version of the text has been agreed, we file the application forms and pay the fees for filing and search. Establishing a filing date is crucial as a patent is granted to the first to file rather than the first to invent in most countries. The invention is “patent pending” worldwide from this point on.
6 monthsSearch(Around 6 months)
The patent office searches for previous publications that are relevant to the claimed invention and sends a list of publications to us. We will assess how relevant the cited documents are and provide a summary with advice on how to proceed with the application. The search report also includes an initial opinion on whether the invention is patentable from the patent office. We will make straightforward proposals on how to respond to the opinion if necessary.
After the search report has been sent out by the patent office, we have a chance to amend the application to take account of the earlier documents that they have found. We can only amend the claims at this stage. We will recommend specific amendments if we think that they are necessary.
The application will be published 18 months from filing. We will let you know when this is scheduled to occur.
22 monthsRequesting International Examination
We have the option of requesting a preliminary examination of the application centrally at this stage. However, we only recommend this step for applications which are intended to cover a large number of countries, given the additional cost.
30 monthsNational Phase Entry
At this stage, you select which countries you would like to continue the application in. We will advise you on the cost of proceeding in the countries you are interested in and the likelihood of obtaining a granted patent. We will then handle the forms and legal documents required to go ahead in each country. After this point, the international application splits into a bundle of national patent applications that proceed independently of one another.
36-48 monthsNational Examination(Varies from country to country, but typically a few years)
Each country has its own examination procedure with the search performed at the international stage as a starting point. We will guide you through the examination process from start to finish, using local expertise where necessary.
36-60 monthsGrant(Varies from country to country, but typically a few months)
We will handle the formalities associated with grant of the patent. For some countries, there is a patent office fee to pay. The invention is “patented” from this point on.
36 months+Renewal(Yearly from grant)
In order to keep the patent in force in each country, a renewal fee must be paid to the relevant patent office every year on the anniversary of filing. We will remind you when these fees are due and pay them on your behalf if you instruct us to do so. A patent can be kept in force for up to 20 years from the date of filing.