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Patenting process

The patent application process is lengthy and will take years to obtain a granted patent, but this is a necessary part of the commercialisation strategy for your idea, discovery or invention.

Estimated patent timescales

Month Activity
  Draft and file priority UK patent application
12 File International PCT application
18 PCT application published with a search report
24 Receive examination report
30 Submit national filings to individual countries
52+ Patent granted in countries if examination process completes successfully

Here's how the patenting process works at Edinburgh:

UK patent application

It is standard practice at Edinburgh to apply for a UK patent in the first instance, thereby setting the priority date for the patent application.

The University employs the services of patent agents specialised in the relevant discipline to assist in the patenting process. This process involves meeting with the agent and discussing aspects of the invention to ensure that they can draft a suitable specification to cover the invention and its uses.

When the patent agent has completed the first draft of the patent, he will usually return to the inventors with very specific questions. Often these questions try to extract from the inventor the breadth of claims that can be legitimately made from the specific research that has already been undertaken.

This step can be time consuming but the input of inventors and patent agents is essential to get the best specification and potential claims possible.

The 12 month period after initial filing is often used to exemplify the invention further. Within that period, we will generally finalise the details of the patent, including a full description of the invention, diagrams, claims and technical features.

International PCT application

Our preferred route to immediately follow on from a UK application is to apply for international protection under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). A PCT application delays the costs that would otherwise be incurred in applying to individual territories for an 18 month period.

Patent Co-operation Treaty

Over one hundred countries have signed the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT). This means that a single PCT filing allows applications to be initiated in all significant patent territories in which we may seek to protect your invention.

National filings

At 30 months after the priority filing, the patent prosecution will enter the national/regional phase with national filings submitted to individual countries.

This will incur translation costs per country, and will be examined by the patent offices in the selected countries.

Once any objections in specific territory filings are satisfied, a patent will be granted which, in most territories, will last for 20 years from the priority filing date.

This process of examination can take from a few months to years depending on the complexity of the arguments for and against the case.