Patenting your invention

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

If you get a patent, you’ll also have to pay to renew it each year and the costs of legal action if you need to defend it.

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

Getting help

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:

This advice will be confidential.

Don’t talk to other people without a non-disclosure agreement, or you may not be able to patent your invention. You can get help with this from a patent attorney or solicitor.