There are many different types of intellectual property such as copyright, trademark and probably one of the most well known, a patent for a product that you have developed.
Whilst patents may be one of the most well-known forms of intellectual property, they are also one of the more complex for a business to obtain.
What is a patent?
Granted by the government, a patent is designed to help you protect your invention. Having a patent in place means that only the patent owner, or someone that they give permission to, has the rights to manufacturing, using, importing or selling your invention.
Once in place a patent gives you the right to take legal action and claim damages from anyone infringing your patent.
How to patent an idea
You must apply for a patent
Whilst some forms of intellectual property protection are automatic such as copyright or design right, to obtain a patent you must apply for one. In the UK the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the body responsible for intellectual property rights such as patents.
According to gov.uk, in order to apply for a patent your invention must be:
• Something that can be made or used
Check that a patent is right for your invention
The advice on gov.uk regarding patents makes it clear that patents are difficult to obtain. The process of getting a patent can take up to 5 years from start to finish. It is also expensive. You are likely to need to consult a professional to help with the application given the complex nature of the process. The costs of which can mount up when added to the fees that must also be paid.
Ensuring that the money you will make from your invention is higher than the cost of getting a patent is a good starting point. It is also worth checking if another type of intellectual property protection could be more beneficial such as a trademark or design right, both of which are much easier to obtain.
Keep your invention private
If you do decide a patent is the right option for your business, do not make your invention public before you have applied. Doing so may mean that you are unable to obtain a patent. Before engaging with a professional or talking to anyone about your invention it is common practice to put a non-disclosure agreement in place to ensure information about your invention is not leaked.
How long does a patent last?
In the UK a patent can last for 20 years from the point of filing for the patent. The patent will remain in place for this period as long as it is not revoked and the correct renewal fees are paid. First renewal fees are due on the 4th anniversary after you filed for the patent and then every year after that.
How can insurance help you protect a patent?
Once a patent is in place, the responsibility of ensuring the patented invention is not copied falls to the patent owner. The IPO do not monitor or get involved with any disputes. As a result, any legal costs associated with defending disputes surrounding a patent will also need to be met by the patent owner.
This is where intellectual property insurance can be of benefit as it will help cover the legal costs associated with a patent dispute. Intellectual property insurance can help provide cover in many areas including the following:
• Legal costs of bringing or defending an IP infringement claim
• Compensation payments that may be due as a result of a claim bought against your business e.g. if you are found to have copied another patented product
• Historic IP registration costs
• Future income that will be derived from the IP.
Intellectual property insurance can be of particular benefit to smaller companies in protecting them against copying by bigger entities, giving them the resources to challenge a big corporation if needed.
If you have any questions about intellectual property insurance do give us a call on 020 8290 9080 or email us at email@example.com. Or if you’d like more information you can read our recent interview with our Managing Director, Mark Stevenson, looking at your intellectual property rights and how to protect them.