Bright ideas

December 18, 1998

Celia Hampton's point that an academic paper can be used to found a patent application is an important one (THES, October 23). It means that an academic can establish his and/or his institution's intellectual property while meeting publication deadlines and at no extra cost. No fee is payable for filing a United Kingdom patent application.

But before filing a patent application and publishing: 1. It is essential that you file your paper as a patent application before giving it to anyone else on a non-confidential basis. So, first apply for patent, then publish.

2. The paper should contain all the significant aspects of the research, because you cannot add any new information to a patent application later.

3. The paper should make it possible for someone else to reproduce what you have done.

4. The paper should explain the general principles as well as specific examples. It should make clear the widest application of your ideas. If it does not, your patent will not give you as wide protection as you might otherwise have been able to obtain.

5. If the paper does all the above, file it. An application form can be obtained from the Patent Office or its web site (www.patent.gov.uk).

Ron Marchant

Director of patents and designs The Patent Office

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