Thanks to Stephen Walker for pointing out a (mostly) well-informed piece in yesterday's Times on how to get your own patent. For an amateur would-be patent proprietor, the article advises that £200 is enough to get you a granted patent from the UK Patent Office, and you can expect to see a granted patent in two to three years. This is a sign that the UKPO is now a sleek and efficient operation (and well funded by renewal fees, as the actual cost is much more than £200).
Right: No, not that sort of patent cat (click on the picture).
An example is given of Ron Hamilton, who filed a patent on contact lenses and eventually sold it and his business for £33m. What it also says though is that Mr Hamilton employed the services of a patent agent, and is quoted as saying "I believe it is a misconception that you can file a patent for £200. You probably can — but you will lose it in about two years because you get what you pay for".
The IPKat thinks that this is a nice bit of PR from the UK Patent Office, who do really really want to help those innovative but not necessarily cash-rich inventors, now that all the moneyed applicants are going straight to the EPO. However, as Merpel warns, if you do-it-yourself the results are not always that great.