2. Before you apply
Patents are the most difficult form of protection to get. Check if a patent is right for your business before you apply for one.
You should only apply for a patent if:
- your invention is new - check for similar ones by searching published patents, the internet and trade publications
- you have the time and money for the application process
The application process is:
- complicated - only 1 in 20 applicants get a patent without professional help
- expensive - with professional help, applications typically cost £4,000
- long - it usually takes 5 years
Other ways to protect your intellectual property
Other types of protection might be more appropriate for your business. For example, you can use:
- trade marks - if you can create a brand and be first to market
- design rights - if how your product looks (rather than how it works) is important and innovative
- non-disclosure agreements to keep it secret before launch - this can provide enough protection if your product is likely to sell for only a short time
You can get a professional to help you decide whether a patent is right for your business.
You may be able to get free advice by:
- speaking to a patent attorney or other professional advisor - many offer basic advice for free
- attending an intellectual property (IP) clinic
- going to the British Library Business and IP Centre in London
This advice will be confidential.