Patents are used to protect inventions that incorporate a new idea and that are capable of being made or used by the healthcare industry, for example medical devices, pharmaceutical products, processes or methods of operation.

It is not possible to obtain patent protection for all medical inventions throughout the world, for example methods of surgery, therapy and diagnosis are not patentable in the UK but the latter two may be patented in the US. The HSC Innovations team can provide advice on what ideas may or may not be patented.

In order to obtain patent protection the invention must not be obvious to someone who is already skilled in that field – for example a new cardiac pacemaker must not be obvious to a cardiac surgeon or clinical practitioner in this area – and must not have been made public anywhere in the world prior to submission of the patent application.

Due to these criteria, it is important that publications are not submitted to journals and that information is not published on the internet or described in oral or poster presentations at meetings before a patentability assessment is carried out and any applications for patent protection are filed.

It is also important to ensure that any discussions with external organisations are held with confidentiality agreements in place. For more information about confidentiality agreements please click here.

The HSC Innovations team can carry out patentability assessments, file patent applications and identify funding to support work performed by patent attorneys. Please contact us as soon as possible to ensure that patent applications can be filed without causing unnecessary delay to the publication of your research.

The UK Intellectual Property Office website offers guidance on patents, including a useful basic facts booklet.