To obtain a patent for UK protection, you must make a patent application to the Patent Office which will then send you the required forms. These forms must be returned with a description of the invention and filing fee. The date of receipt of your application by the Patent Office (the filing date) is important because this becomes the priority date both for UK and international patent protection purposes.
Within twelve months of the filing date, you must send to the Patent Office a preliminary search fee, a description and drawings of the invention, and the patent claims. This specification is then published by the Patent Office.
Within six months of publication of the patent specification an examination fee is payable whereupon the Patent Office examines in detail whether the invention qualifies for patent protection. The Patent Office will then send you a report setting out the findings of the examination and give you an opportunity to amend the application or make comments on the findings. Once the Patent Office is satisfied, a patent will be granted.
The whole process should take about three years. The Patent Office has however recently introduced a quickie procedure for simpler patents intended for smaller businesses or individuals seeking patent protection in order to raise finance.
After grant, annual renewal fees must be paid after 5 years.