1. Overview

A patent protects your invention and lets you take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports your invention without your permission.

You can apply for patent protection in the UK through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Check if a patent is the right protection for your intellectual property.

Get professional advice

Getting a patent can be complicated and expensive - especially if you apply for an international patent.

You can get professional advice by speaking in confidence to a patent attorney or other professional advisor.

You won’t usually get a patent if you’re not represented by a patent attorney.

You may not be able to patent your invention if it becomes public beforehand. Use a non-disclosure agreement if you need to talk to anyone else about your invention, eg potential manufacturers or financial backers.

How to apply

  1. Search for similar patents to make sure your invention is new.

  2. Prepare your patent application.

  3. File your patent application and request a search from the IPO.

  4. Receive your search report (usually within 6 months) and decide whether you want to continue with your application.

  5. Your application will be published 18 months after you file it.

  6. Ask for a ‘substantive examination’ within 6 months of publication.

  7. Respond to comments from IPO’s ‘substantive examination’. The examination may take place several years after you file your application.

  8. Your application will be granted or refused.

You can commercially benefit from your patent once its been granted, eg license, sell or mortgage your patent.

Don’t make your invention public before you apply. You may not be able to patent it, or it could make your patent invalid.

It’s up to you to defend your patent and keep it up to date.

How long it takes

It typically takes 3 to 4 years for a patent to be granted.

You may be able to get your patent granted more quickly.

How long it lasts

A patent can last for 20 years from the date you apply for it. A patent is less likely to last as long if you don’t seek advice from a patent attorney.

Other ways to get a UK patent

You can also file a UK patent application through: