Here are some FAQs. If you don’t find what you are looking for here please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What is IP?

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to any creation of the mind whether it is expressed as an artistic or a physical creation. Certain intangible IP rights can be registered. Registrable rights include patents, trade marks and designs.

What can be protected?

There is a wide-range of protection available to protect your IP. For example, patents may potentially be used to protect how your product works. Designs may potentially be used to protect how your product looks. Trade marks may be used to protect your brand associated with a product.

What can’t be protected?

Certain exceptions apply for registrable rights such as patents, trade marks and designs. These exceptions may depend in which territories that you wish to proceed. In Europe, for example, only novel and non-obvious inventions may be patentable. Also a European patent application must disclose the invention in a sufficient manner for it to be reproduced so a detailed description for the invention must be provided.

In addition, the subject matter of a European patent must not be excluded by statute. For example, a European patent must not purely be a discovery, scientific theory, mathematical method, aesthetic creation, computer program, mental act, method of playing a game, business method or presentation of information. Patents in the life science field must not interfere with the day-to-day practice of any doctor – methods of medical treatment, methods of diagnosis or surgery practiced on the human or animal body are thus excluded from patentability. Patents in the life science field must also not interfere with the activity of plant or animal breeders – methods of plant or animal crossing are excluded from patentability. In addition, any patent must not be contrary to public policy or morality.

What is an opposition?

All European patent applications are assessed by qualified European Patent Office (EPO) Examiners to ensure the requirements for patentability are met. If a patent is deemed to be allowable by the Examiners of an Examining Division, then a patent is granted (e.g. awarded).

To allow 3rd parties to challenge the grant of any patent, a European Patent may be opposed within 9 months from grant. This allows any 3rd party to file arguments as to why the patent should not have been granted. An Opposition Division of the EPO then re-decide whether the patent should be maintained or revoked.

What is a patent?

A patent is a contract between a state and a patent applicant to provide special rights for a limited duration. It is intended as a reward for innovation, and is a property which can be bought, sold or licenced.

What is a trade mark?

Many things can be registered as a trade mark - names and logos are the most common. A trade mark can be anything that allows consumers to distinguish your goods or services from those of another. 

What is a design right?

A registered design protects the visual appearance of a product or item and gives you exclusive rights for that appearance.

How long does IP protection last?

Patents can be protected for up to 20 years as long as they are regularly renewed. Other forms of IP have a lifetime that will depend on the type and jurisdiction. For up to date information, please contact one of our specialists.

What is licensing?

Licensing relates to the act of transferring some of the rights in your IP to another. This allows them to use your IP rights for a set period of time and for an agreed fee. A patent owner can license their interests in a patent on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis.

What should I do if someone has infringed my patent or is making unauthorised use of my IP assets?

Seek professional advice and provide your IP attorneys with as much information as possible about the infringed right(s). Taking immediate action without first considering the issues with a professional advisor may bring a number or risks to your business.

What happens to IP during insolvency?

This can be quite complex however it is worth researching the legal position. Just because the owner of the IP becomes insolvent does not mean the IP is lost. However, you do need to act fast. It is imperative you contact a patent attorney or other IP advisor to discuss your options.

Why do I need IP planning/strategy?

Often IP can be the most sought-after asset in a firm or associated with a brand. It is thus worthwhile allocating the correct resources to protect this valuable asset. Time and money spent initially can save you costs further down the line when you are protecting your assets or managing an opposition or infringement. It is important to have regular meetings with your IP specialist to review changing markets, threats and opportunities.

What is patent mapping?

Patent mapping is a great tool to help you manage your IP, your R&D budget and manage knowledge about your competitors. For further information contact one of our patent advisors who will be able to give you further information.

I want to publish my research can I do this without affecting any corresponding patent?

Under European practice, an invention is only considered novel if it does not form part of the state of the art. The so called “state of the art” includes everything made available to the public by means of a written or oral description, by use, or in any other way, before the date of filing the European patent application. There is therefore a risk that any pre-filing publication would act to undermine any later patent application.

If a patent is of interest, it is thus strongly recommended to file the patent application before making any corresponding publication. However, a patent application should not act to prevent publication of the research. For example, once a journal manuscript is under preparation, a corresponding patent application could be filed quickly without necessarily needing to delay later submission to the journal.

What is patent box?

It is tax relief to encourage innovation. To find out more information and see if you qualify please contact one of our patent experts.

What is PPH?

The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) is an agreement between various patent offices around the world to help accelerate the Examination Procedures regarding patent applications. There are potential advantages (and disadvantages) to the PPH around the world. For further information contact one of our patent advisors who will be able to give you further information.

How will Brexit affect my IP?

The European Patent Convention (EPC) is outside of the European Union (EU), so Brexit will not have any direct impact on the filing or prosecution of patents at the European Patent Office (EPO). However, Brexit has implications for certain other forms of IP rights such as trade marks, designs and Plant Variety Rights. If you are concerned. please contact your IP professionals to discuss further.

What are careers opportunities in the firm?

As a growing firm we are always on the lookout for new talent whether support staff or attorneys.

Does the firm have graduate taster days? Or work placements?

We are intending to launch taster days and work placements next year at our new office in the centre of York. If you are interested and would like to receive information, please email us at careers@secerna.co.uk including your CV and an explanation as to why you are interested in what we do.

What is a career as a patent attorney like?

A career as a patent attorney is a varied and exciting option for those who enjoy science and technology but don’t necessarily want to continue in academia or research. Have a look at our graduate booklet if you are a graduate or give us a call for an informal chat.