Standard YouTuve Licence
In Animated Advice 18 March 2016 NIPC News I introduced readers to some animations published by the Intellectual Property Office, the World Intellectual Property Organization and others. One of the films I mentioned was the IPO's IP BASICS: Should I get a patent?
Today I want to share with you an even more helpful animation published by the US Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") so long as you bear in mind that the USA is a different country, with different institutions and different laws. However, the United States like the United Kingdom is party to a number of international agreements such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS") which requires each country's intellectual property laws to be broadly similar.
Here are also some points to bear in mind for British readers:
- The USPTO is the place to start for inventors in the USA because it is the intellectual property office for that country but inventors in this country can start either at the Intellectual Property Office in Newport (look you) or the European Patent Office in Munich ("there's lovely for you!" as they say in Wales).
- Our law does not expressly define an invention though it does list a number of things that can't be patented as such like computer programs or methods of doing business which are not specifically excluded in US law. Also, we cut out some of the verbiage like "machine" or "composition of matter." Basically, an invention can be patented on this side of the Atlantic if it is a product or process.
- One reason why I really like this animation is that it advises inventors to consider writing a business plan and carry out some market research. I've been ramming that message home in my IP clinics, talks to inventors' clubs and blogs for years. Here is just one of my articles: "Why every business plan should take account of intellectual property" 3 Apr 2016 NIPC News.
- The places where you can get help with your invention in this country would be the Business and IP Centres at the British Library next to St Pancras Station in London and the central libraries of Birmingham, Exeter, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester, Newcastle, Northampton, Norwich and Sheffield. Those libraries are also part of a wider network of public libraries that are associated with the EPO called PatLib. If you study the list you will find help available in Aberdeen. Belfast, Glasgow, Plymouth and Portsmouth. We no longer have anything quite as good as Business USA.gov in this country but we do have the Business and Self-Employed pages of the gov.uk website. Also, you can call me on 020 7404 5252 any time during business hours and I can point you in the right direction.
- As in the USA, you can apply to the IPO or EPO for a patent without instructing a patent attorney but I would strongly advise you against it. I know patent attorneys don't come cheap but there are funding schemes here to help you (see How Small Businesses can fund IP Advice and Representation 3 Sept 2016 NIPC News). By the way, the terms "patent agent" and "patent attorney" mean different things in the USA. There, a patent attorney means a lawyer specializing in IP but a patent agent is a non-legally qualified professional who prosecutes patent applications. Here, the terms patent attorneys and patent agents are used interchangeably. Patent attorneys in the UK are members of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys which used to be called the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents until a few years ago. Finally, the expression "pro se" is not used in this country. Those who apply for patents without the help of patent attorneys are usually referred to as "unrepresented applicants".
- In this country, we don't have "utility", "design" or "plant patents" as such but we do have registered and registered Community designs (for the time being) and EU and national plant breeders' rights (see Jane Lambert Protecting Investment in New Plant Varieties 4 May 2016 LinkedIn). What Americans call "utility patents" are simply "patents" here.
- There is no call centre in Newport or Munich like the Inventors Assistance Center but both the IPO and EPO publish guidance for unrepresented applicants on their websites and the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, Ideas 21 and I hold free consultations with an IP professional at towns and cities around the UK. Check out CIPA's IP Clinics page and Ideas 21's regular advice sessions in London. Mine are held in Barnsley on the second Tuesday of every month and you can book your appointment through the BarnsleyBiz Surgeries page.
Wherever you are in the country, you can call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.