An individual or company resident in the UK is normally required to file a patent application with the UK Patent Office before filing any patent applications abroad. This is to allow for the content of the application to be checked for national security issues.
Most countries of the world are members of a very long established Convention whereby a patent application filed in that country within 12 months of the original application may be treated as if it had been filed on the same day as the original application.
There are two (main) supra-national filing systems; one covering Europe and the other covering most countries of the world. The European system deals with an application all the way to the grant of patent rights. The other system stops short of the grant stage. Both systems ultimately revert to the grant of national patent rights.
The application process involves an official search for previous examples of technology similar to that described in the patent application. The results of the search are used as the basis for a formal examination to determine whether or not the new invention has sufficient inventive merit to justify the grant of monopoly rights. Patent applications are often amended at this stage in order to emphasise the distinctions between the invention and what was known before.
We have considerable experience in amending applications to overcome objections which may be raised as a consequence of previous technology.