Patent Protection and the Role of IP Lawyers

04th January 2011
By Tim Bishop in Copyright & Trademark
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Depending on the type of IP (intellectual property) that you are wishing to legally protect then a patent application may be the right way forward. A patent protects a new invention and limits the commercial gains to the invention to the inventor. Having a patented invention prevents others from copying it without permission.

The WPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) defines an invention as being "a solution to a specific problem in the field of technology", this includes products and processes. Normally a patent remains valid for up to 20 years (depending on renewal) after this period others then become able to commercially benefit from it.

By owning a patent, an organisation simply has the right to prevent others exploiting the idea or concept which has been described in that patent. There is no onus on them to manufacture products themselves, but of course if they fail to fully exploit the commercial benefit of the invention, during their "lock out" period, then it is their loss.

This is demonstrated quite clearly by the way the pharmaceutical sector works. The creation of a new drug will not long be followed by a patent application, once this is done the marketing will begin, which involves pushing the drug as much as possible to encourage the maximum amount of usage. When this protection period comes to an end, other manufacturers can get the detailed information regarding the composition of the drug, which was previously protected by the patent and can thus begin production. The company producing the drug finances the creation of the brand name which is closely connected with the chemical composition of the drug, this gives the creation some distinction even when the protection finishes. And it will have priced its patented creation at a high level, in order to recoup its development costs and help fund its future research, while generic drugs - which the National Health Service will always choose where possible - are substantially cheaper.

If you think that you have a brand new idea or concept that could be patented, then contact an intellectual property solicitor asap, patents are not just applicable to drugs. A legal IP specialist will help you define and register your development, and advise you on the best route to ensuring it is protected against being copied in the future. With the correct legal protection, you will be able to defend your intellectual property against any attempts to undermine its commercial viability in the marketplace by copying aspects of it. Prevention is always better than cure, so don't delay - your idea should be legally protected from the beginning.


Tim Bishop is senior partner at Bonallack & Bishop, a firm of IP Lawyers specialising in intellectual property advice. He is responsible for all major strategic decisions, seeing himself as a businessman who owns a law firm. Tim has expanded the firm by 1000% in 12 years and has plans for its continued development
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