Do you have an idea or invention and not quite sure where to start?
Protecting an invention is often the first hurdle to clear before taking your product to market, and so we’ve teamed up with the British Library to provide guidance on how to protect your idea.

Case Studies

Louise Robinson

Head of Breakthrough, Santander Business Banking

From the telephone to the world wide web, the UK has led the way in creating many of the 20th century’s most fundamental inventions, but data shows that our innovation is waning.

While inventors from global superpowers like China, Japan and the US are securing patents at record levels, inventions created by their British counterparts are in decline.

Working with our partners at the British Library, we’ve created a Patents Toolkit to help businesses and individuals with some handy tips on how to protect their idea.

Did you know?

The concept of patenting came from royalty and was a way of encouraging new trades from abroad

John of Utynam is the recipient of the first known English patent, granted in 1449 by King Henry VI. John was a master glassmaker from Flanders who came to England to make the coloured glass windows for Eton College and other college chapels. The patent granted him a 20-year monopoly on the making of stained glass

The official patenting system as we know it today was created more than 402 years ago, in 1617, where the first official patent was granted to Aron Rathburne and Roger Burges for map engraving

The second official patent created was granted to Nicholas Hilliard, the miniaturist, for reproducing the King’s appearance

On average, three quarters of all patents submitted are rejected – the most common reasons are that the ideas are not inventive enough, or for financial reasons

The average cost of applying for a patent ranges from £320 -£4,000, although this figure can be much higher

UK patents granted global competitors
  • 3,001 patents granted by British inventors in 2018 altogether
  • 8% decline in patents granted to British entrepreneurs and companies in 2018, the biggest year-on-year decline since 2013
  • UK lags in 9th place in global league table for successful patents, dwarfed by China (115x more patents granted), Japan (51x more) and the US (48x more)
  • 14% increase on patents granted to European inventors
  • 345,959 patents granted to Chinese inventors in 2018 – that’s more patents in one year alone than all UK patents granted since records began (22,748)
UK patents granted regionally
  • Three regions in terms of annual growth are:
    • North West: 22%
    • Northern Ireland: 8%
    • Wales: 5%
  • Three regions in terms of annual decline are:
    • Yorkshire and Humber: -25%
    • South West: -25%
    • East Midlands: -23%

Help from The British Library

The British Library’s Business and IP Centre has a range of further information on patents, trademarks, copyright and registered designs.

The British Library resources