May 2024 News

Why timing is everything

In a week where the timing of the UK General Election has been much discussed, I thought I would share some thoughts about the importance of timing in the world of patent applications.

Sometimes people ask me how long it takes to get a patent application in place.  The best answer is to allow a couple of weeks, maybe two weeks for me to write the initial draft and then a few days to a week to discuss it with you and settle on a final text.  Once we have approval of a text, it is now a matter of minutes to physically get it on file at the Office, thanks to online filing systems. 

As usual, the devil is in the detail

 However, that timeline hides a lot of detail.  Sometimes it takes a lot longer, usually because the invention hasn’t been completely finished yet and keeps morphing as we chase after it with draft after draft.  Sometimes a timeline is dictated to us by circumstance – if there is a disclosure planned then we must get the application in place before that happens.

The car phone conversation

That was the case some years ago, for the application that set my own ‘personal best’ in terms of time between instruction and filing.  The client was one that I knew well, we had previously filed maybe 3 or 4 patent applications for them so I was very familiar with the technology (fortunately).  They rang me mid-morning and I could hear immediately from the background noise that they were in a car on the move and that there were a few of them in the car.  They explained that they had been asked by a customer of theirs to solve a problem that the customer was experiencing with some third-party equipment, and which the customer thought their particular experience was well suited to solving.  The client, on the other hand, had had no idea how to solve it so had agreed to a meeting at the customer’s site – nominally to look over the problem and get a better understanding, but actually in the hope that something would occur to them while they were there!
Anyway, they were on their way to the customer for that meeting and one of them had just had a brainwave as to how they could solve it – which he explained to me in about two minutes over the phone there and then.  It was beautifully simple, elegant, and was obviously going to work.  The small problem was that they wanted to tell the customer about their solution… today… at the site meeting… could I get a patent application on file today please?

A swift response

The answer, obviously, was yes.  Luckily, they had called on a day when I was available and did not have anything in the diary that I couldn’t move.  The simplicity of the idea helped a lot, it meant that the patent application could be very brief and to the point.  In fact, I think it also set a personal record for the shortest application I’ve written – the Patent Office forms and covering letter were about the same length as the application itself.

A 'Personal Best'

So that application was filed mid-afternoon the same day, around 5 hours from instruction to filing.  I haven’t beaten that record since then, and doubt I will.  If you have an idea and it needs protecting then let me know, ideally sooner than on your way to a public disclosure!

Until next time.

Best Wishes


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