The vast majority of students taking part in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will not need to consider applying for a patent. However, if your project comprises functional or technical aspects that are new and not an obvious development on what already exists, you might consider applying for patent protection.
For an invention to be patentable it must be:
- Totally new (search using free patent databases like espacenet or Google Patent, or even just ordinary search sites like Google or Yahoo)
- Not obvious to a person who works in the technology field (usually an improvement with surprising benefits)
- Capable of industrial application (e.g. manufacture)
- Not be part of the excluded category, e.g. equipment specifically designed for human or animal torture!
Prior to making a patent application, you must not make any public disclosure of your idea/invention, or put it into use publicly, for example at the Exhibition. The reason for this is that the patent application itself must be the first public disclosure of the invention. Any prior disclosure of the invention will count against the invention being considered new, and could result in the patent being invalid.
If an invention is in the public domain it is considered ‘prior art’ and no longer patentable in most countries including the UK and Ireland.
But please remember that there are real costs involved should you decide to apply for a patent, these initial costs are:
• the basic patent office fees (a few hundred euros/pounds depending on where you file the patent application e.g. the Irish Patent Office or UK Patent Office). (The Irish Patents Office charges €125 to file a standard patent. It would cost a minimum of €550 to get it to grant)
• the optional, but advisable, Patent Attorney fees, these can add considerably (these fees are usually calculated in thousands, rather than hundreds) to the application (invention disclosure forms help reduce these costs)
Come along and visit us at our stand to find out more about patents, trade marks, designs or copyright. Test your knowledge by taking part in our quiz and you could be the lucky winner of one of our daily prizes! We look forward to meeting you!