Protection of an invention involves several steps:
- A first filing at one particular patent office, generally a national patent office, for securing a priority date. Thus, filing effectively "freezes" the state of the art, that is to say any publication and disclosure which is published after the priority date cannot be used to challenge your right to a patent.
- Foreign filings in different states, within a year of the priority date, to extended protection in different territories.
The European patent route, may cover most European countries.
- Prosecution of all the applications up to the grant of the first and foreign filings. This generally involves dialogue between the patent attorney and the patent office regarding the patentability of the invention.
- If the relevant patent office accepts that the invention is patentable,it grants a patent. This patent is a legal right enforceable against third party infringers who make, use, sell or import the patented invention into the territory covered by the patent without a license from the owner of the patent (the patentee). Infringement actions are generally legal procedures brought in a national Court, in some of which, the UK for example, patent attorneys can have right of audience.