If you invent something, you can use a patent to protect it. A patent gives you the right to take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports it without your permission.
Patents are expensive and difficult to get. Before you apply, you should consider whether a patent is right for your business.
To be granted a patent, your invention must be all of the following:
• something that can be made or used
• inventive - not just a simple modification to something that already exists
You can’t patent:
• literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
• a way of doing business, playing a game or thinking
• a method of medical treatment or diagnosis
• a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method
• new types of plants, seeds or animals
• the way information is presented
• some computer programs
How to register
The patent application process is complex and time-consuming. It may be in your best interest to get help from an agent (usually a law firm) to guide you through the process. There are eight steps if you apply for patent protection:
1. Search for similar patents to make sure your invention is new. An agent can assist you with this.
2. Complete an Application for a Patent.
3. Prepare and attach two copies of the invention’s specification. This should include:
• The title of the invention
• A detailed written description of the invention
• A claim, which explains the extent of the protection being requested
• Drawings of the new invention showing how it works. If it is three-dimensional, drawings from all angles should be provided.
4. File the patent application with the specification and pay the filing fee of $180.
5. An official search will be made for the same or similar patents on the Register of Patents. Applications are sent to the UK IPO for a technical assessment. This will incur an additional fee depending on how much time is required.
6. Receive your search report (usually within six months) and decide whether you want to continue with your application.
7. Your application will be published in the Royal Gazette (without details of the invention). There is then a two month period for anyone to file an opposition to the application.
8. If no opposition is filed, or once you successfully respond to any comments, a patent will be granted and a certificate of registration will be issued.
Another option to consider is applying for a provisional patent, which gives protection for nine months from the date of application. The provisional patent can be converted to a full application for a patent at any time during the nine months. Provisional patents are often used when the full detailed specifications of an invention are not yet available but still provide temporary protection.
The application procedure for a provisional patent is simpler: you must provide your name, address, a brief description of the invention, a provisional specification and the required fee. The provisional specification is not required to be as detailed as for a regular patent.
The application fee is $180. Additional fees for patents are given in Summary of Patent Fees 2016-17. Fees can be paid by cash, cheque (payable to the Accountant General), Government Revenue Stamps, or credit/debit cards.
How long does the patent last?
The patent remains in force for 16 years. You can extend that for further periods not exceeding seven years at a time.
What if a patent is already registered in the UK, or as a European patent that designates the UK?
If you have a patent that is registered in the UK, or a European Patent that designates the UK, you can register the patent in Bermuda within three years of its first registration.
No search is required, and the patent will give the same rights as any other patent registered in Bermuda. The patent will only be in force for as long as the UK or European Patent is in force, but cannot be renewed.