Obtaining patent protection for an invention can be an integral part of its successful commercialisation. Without this protection, potentially anyone can copy your invention and profit from it.
What can be patent protected?
In Australia, judging if an idea is patentable is carried out by IP Australia. The basic criteria for patentability are newness, inventiveness and usefulness.
However, patents are not limited to devices. Substances, methods and processes are also patentable in Australia. Included amongst these are business methods, though this is not the case in all other jurisdictions. Patentable subject matter does not extend to artistic creations, mathematical models, plans or other purely mental and artistic processes.
What is the patent protection process?
The Australian patent office, IP Australia, grants two kinds of patents. The standard patent affords the applicant with sole control over their invention for up to 20 years. An innovation patent, conversely, endures for up to 8 years and is a cheaper, quicker alternative to the standard patent. Innovation patents also require a lower threshold of inventiveness, whereby the invention must be “innovative” rather than “inventive”. Renewal fees apply for both types of patents.
The first port of call when seeking to protect your invention will usually be an Australian provisional application, which provides you with 12 months to further develop both your invention and your patent specification. Filing the provisional application (with the relevant patent office) creates a priority date, so that the protection afforded to your idea can claim back to this date. Before the 12 month period has lapsed, you must file a complete application to proceed to the next step of securing your patent.
Protecting your invention in more than one country has the added bonus of allowing you to tap into potentially advantageous markets. Carrying out this procedure takes place when you file your complete patent application. It may be in the form of a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application, which establishes a filing date in the 140 or so countries signatory to the PCT. Establishing protection in a particular country then simply involves filing a “national phase application” in each country you desire. This must be carried out within 30 and 31 months of the priority date, depending on the country.
Who can assist me with my patent protection?
Identifying the numerous viewpoints from which competitors may approach on your invention is extremely important in order to shield the invention as thoroughly as possible from the outset. Therefore, your provisional patent application should certainly be professionally prepared by a patent attorney, who is uniquely qualified to represent a patent applicant or patent holder.
Important Disclaimer: The information on this website is not legal or professional advice. The information may:
- not be correct;
- only relate to the law or practice in a given country; and/or
- be outdated.