To date, when writing this series, I’ve always discussed patents and not patenting. What I mean by this is that I have told you about inventions which are described in some granted patents, but I’ve never explained much about what is required for a patent application to blossom into a granted patent. So here goes…
You can file a patent application for anything. As I often tell new clients, I could file a patent application today for the wheel, if I wanted to! However, patents are only granted for inventions which are both new and inventive. So who decides this?
In the UK, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) initially searches patent and other databases for documents that describe similar inventions. Once they have found relevant documents (the ‘cited prior art’) they will determine if the patent applicant’s invention is novel (new).
If the invention passes that first hurdle then a patent examiner will consider the question of whether it is inventive. And before you ask, a new invention is deemed inventive in the UK if the nominally skilled person in the field of technology of the invention would consider that the invention is not obvious in light of the cited prior art.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you all this now? Sometimes one comes across a patent which has been granted and your reaction is ‘oh, did they really grant a patent for that?’ At which point I remind myself, ‘as long as it’s novel and inventive, then why not!’
I had such a reaction when I came across UK patent no. 2489145. This patent was granted on 24 September 2014 to PowerOasis Limited and is entitled “Managing projected power outage at mobile radio base sites”.