All patent applications are subject to a search procedure. This search involves establishing any evidence of disclosure of the invention before the filing (or priority) date of the patent application. Such evidence might be found in existing patents, websites, journals and books. Oral disclosures may also be taken into account depending on the jurisdiction. Similar inventions relevant to the inventive step of the new invention may also be identified and reported.


A Shape Mark is a non-conventional Trade Mark, which is composed of shapes. The scope of Shape Marks can extend to three-dimensions. Accordingly, it is possible to register the shape of the packaging or the shape of the product itself as a Trade Mark.


In the United Kingdom and Europe, computer programs “as such” are specifically excluded from patentability.  Many computer programs will also fall foul of the exclusion covering “a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business.”  Software patents are therefore very difficult to obtain in the UK and Europe.  However, it may be possible to patent a method implemented by a computer if the method itself would be patentable.  A program which controlled and enabled a novel and inventive industrial process, for example, may be patentable.


A Sound Mark is a non-conventional Trade Mark, which consists exclusively of a sound or a combination of sounds. A Sound Trade Mark uses sound to uniquely identify the commercial origin of the goods or services.


The specification includes the description of a patent, the claims, the drawings and the abstract.


Once a search has been carried out, an Examiner then considers the documents found in the search, also known as prior art, and gives his opinion as to whether the invention meets the requirements for patentability. It is then up to the applicant (or more precisely, the patent attorney) to skilfully argue that a patent should be granted. This occurs during the examination process, the duration of which is dependent, amongst other things, on the prior art found, the complexity of the subject matter and the responses filed.


In return for a limited monopoly in the invention, a patent applicant must disclose their invention in such a way that would enable a third party to work the invention. If this is not possible from reading a patent application without undue effort and skill, then the patent lacks sufficiency, and can be revoked.


A supplementary protection certificate is a special intellectual property right which can maintain protection for an invention for a time after a patent has expired. It is only available for certain types of invention, namely human and veterinary medicines, pesticides and herbicides. The purpose of the certificate is to provide an additional monopoly period to compensate inventors of these products for the additional investment which is required to obtain regulatory approval.


The proprietor of a patent may surrender it at any time. If surrendered, one cannot sue afterwards for infringements that occurred prior to the surrender.