United Kingdom Patent Guide
A patent can be registered in the United Kingdom (UK) pursuant to the Patents Act 1977 which provides for local patent applications.
The following information and documentation is required:
- a request for the grant of the patent
- a description of the invention
- a set of claims
- any drawings referred to in the description or any claim
- an abstract
- statement of inventorship (if there is more than one inventor or applicant is a company)
- applicant’s name and address
- certified copy of priority document (if priority is claimed)
- PCT application if required
It usually takes about six months for the Intellectual Property Office of the UK (UK IPO) to process an application for registration. Paris Convention priority can be claimed. Once the registration is complete the UK IPO will issue a Registration Certificate. A European Patent (EP), once granted, will automatically confer on its proprietor the same rights as are conferred by a UK patent grant.
Patent Cooperation Treaty
The UK is signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and accordingly national phase filing of a PCT patent is possible. This is encouraged if you are seeking coverage in another domicile. A PCT application can simplify the process of seeking a patent in countries that are party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
Whilst there is no requirement to conduct a search in the UK prior to the filing of an application for registration a search is mandatory during the application process to determine the innovativeness of the patent.
Annual Renewal Fees
Once a patent has been registered in the UK there is an annual renewal fee payable to the UK Government. The first fee is due on the fourth anniversary of the application date. Fees for a PCT issued patent are due on the same date. Fees for an EP are due on the first anniversary of the grant of the patent.
Failure to pay an annual renewal fee will cause the patent to lapse. This will effectively prevent any enforcement action being taken.
A grace period of six months, however, is allowed for the late payment of an annual renewal fee upon payment of a late fee. After that time the patent registration will be open to application by a third party.
A patent registration is valid for 20 years. Once the registration has expired it cannot be renewed unless it is a pharmaceutical or plant protection product for which a Supplementary Protection Certificate may be obtained.
Please inform us as soon as possible if you wish to abandon your patent or allow it to lapse so that we can update our records and advise the UK IPO accordingly. This will avoid us sending out unnecessary Reminder Notices.
It is possible to make an application to the UK IPO to restore an abandoned patent upon payment of a restoration fee and any unpaid annual renewal fees and penalties within 19 months of the patent having lapsed.
Please inform us as soon as possible if the patent has been assigned so that we can file an application to record the assignment in the UK.
To record the assignment of a patent registration the only documentation required is the document evidencing the assignment.
It usually takes two months or less for the UK IPO to process an application to record an assignment. Once the recording is complete the UK IPO will issue a Certificate of Assignment.
Change of Particulars
Please inform us as soon as possible if there is any change to the registration so that we can file an application to record the change in the UK.
To record a change of name and/or address for a patent registration no documentation is required unless requested by the UK IPO after the application is filed.
It usually takes two months or less for the UK IPO to process an application to record a Change of Particulars. Once the recording is complete the UK IPO will issue a Certificate showing the change.