Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a trademark?

A trademark is a brand name, logo, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes the products or services of one company from those of another, that helps to protect the reputation and identity of businesses.

What is a patent?

A patent is a legal document that grants an inventor exclusive rights to make, use, and sell an invention for a set period of time. It gives the inventor the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention without their permission.

What can be protected by a patent?

Patents can protect inventions that are new, useful, and non-obvious. Examples of things that can be patented include machines, processes, products, and compositions of matter.

When should you patent?

It is recommended to patent as soon as possible, as soon as the invention is created. This is because patents are granted on a first-come, first-served basis and, in some countries, the first to file will be awarded the patent. Delaying the filing of a patent application can be risky, as the invention might become publicly known before the patent application is filed.

Why should I apply for a patent?

A patent gives the inventor exclusive rights to the invention, which can be used to protect against infringement and to generate revenue. It also gives the inventor the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention without their permission.

How long does a patent application take?

The length of time it takes to process a patent application can vary, depending on the country. Generally, it can take several years before a patent is granted. In the United Kingdom, it can take between 18-24 months. In the United States, it can take between 18-36 months from the time the application is filed until the patent is issued.

How long will patents last?

The duration of a patent depends on the type of patent and the country in which it was granted. In the United Kingdom, a patent is generally valid for 20 years from the date of filing, after which it is no longer valid. In the United States, a utility patent is generally valid for 20 years from the date it is filed. A design patent, however, is generally valid for 14 years from the date it is issued.

Can you renew a patent?

Patent applications and granted patents after an application successfully passes through the application process are typically renewed every year by the payment of an official fee to a government agency. These fees start out initially quite low and increase over time. For an initial United Kingdom patent application there are no renewal fees until after grant of the patent, which makes United Kingdom a good place to start, for a variety of reasons. Patent rights can last up to 20 years but as with many things in the law there are details and exceptions.

Can I amend my patent application after filing?

Yes, you can make amendments to a patent application after filing. However, any amendments can only limit what has already been disclosed not add to it. In the first year after application a further patent application may be filed, based upon the earlier application and additional subject matter may be added to this. This issue is a complex one and is a good want to discuss with your adviser.

Why do the lawyers you work with call themselves attorneys?

If you are reading this from a US perspective then lawyer and attorney are very similar ideas, but if you are reading this from a European point of view it may sound very US centric. For example, in the United Kingdom most lawyers describe themselves as solicitors or barristers. However, there is a small part of the profession specialising in legal work that requires a knowledge of science and technology as well as the law and this is where the name Patent Attorney arises. Patent attorney is a valid UK legal name for a lawyer, so if you work with us you may well be introduced to patent attorneys and this because that is the correct legal name for this part of the profession.