Encouraging innovation through intellectual property rights
A Patent Office case study

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Page 3: Obtaining a patent file application

The process of obtaining a patent file application covers several stages over a period of time.

Within 12 months, a file search request and one or more claims must be submitted. The claim must state the exact nature of the monopoly that the patent, if granted, will protect.

At this point a search will be carried out by the Patent Office to establish:

  • Is the invention new? It must not have been made public anywhere in the world before the date of the application
  • Does it involve an inventive step? It must involve an inventive step which would not be obvious to someone with a good knowledge and experience of the subject
  • Does it have an industrial application? The invention must be able to be made or used
  • Is the invention ‘excluded’? An invention is not patentable if it is a theory, artistic creation, a new method of medical treatment, or will promote offensive, immoral or anti-social behaviour

The patent application then will be published.

Within 6 months, a file examination request will be made. The patent application will be subject to a thorough investigation to ensure that it meets all of the conditions laid down by law. If it fulfils all of these criteria the patent will be granted.

The number of patent applications per year demonstrates the health of the economy: the more applications, the more innovative and progressive the economy. The nature of the applications reflects developments in technology and, potentially, shifts in the concerns of industry and the economy.

There have also been recent applications concerned with the treatment of vehicle exhaust fumes and the removal of pollutants. The rapid increase in mobile communications has meant that there is much UK patent activity in this area, which would echo growth in this sector of the economy.

Patent Office | Encouraging innovation through intellectual property rights