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Last edited 01 Feb 2021
 What is a patent?
When a design is created for a unique, innovative or novel object, be it a labour-saving device, mechanical or electrical component or anything else that it is thought can be produced and sold in profitable quantities, the designer may apply for a patent.
A patent is a form of intellectual property protection. Once granted – usually for a limited period – the designer can exclude others from copying, making, importing and selling a similar item that closely resembles the original and is clearly derived from it.
- Can be made or used (e.g a new construction component).
- Are new.
- Are inventive and not just a simple modification to an existing design.
 Things that cannot be patented
Certain types of invention cannot be patented, including:
- Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works (including building designs).
- A way of doing business, playing a game or thinking.
- A method of medical treatment or diagnosis.
- A discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method.
- The way information is presented.
- Some computer programmes or mobile apps.
- ‘Essentially biological’ processes e.g cross-breeding plants, and plant or animal varieties.
Patents are generally expensive and difficult to obtain. In the UK, applications typically cost £4,000 and only 1 in 20 applications get a patent without professional help. The process is also long, usually taking five years.
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