Why is it important?
A patent is a legally enforceable right of ownership for a device, substance, method or process. You can obtain a patent to protect your invention so long as it is new, useful and inventive or innovative. It will give you the right to exclude another party from using your invention in the country or countries in which patents have been granted as well as add value for sale or licencing agreements. The patent process can often be lengthy and complicated. However with the assistance of an IP practitioner (such as a patent attorney) we can help to guide you through the process.
Can I get a patent?
As mentioned above, an invention must be new to be eligible for patent protection. A patent attorney can complete the relevant searches and assessments to discover whether your invention is patentable. The scope for a patent is wide and most inventions will have satisfactory patent-eligible subject matter.
In Australia, you can start the patent process by filing either a provisional patent application or a complete patent application. Provisional patent applications last for 12 months only (and must be followed by a complete application if patent protection is still required at the completion of the provisional period) but have the advantage that new material can be added to the disclosure as further development of the invention takes place.
A complete application may be either a standard patent or an innovation patent. To obtain standard patent protection, an invention must possess both novelty and an inventive step. Standard patents provide up to 20 years protection. For an innovation patent, an invention must possess novelty and and an innovative step, (a lower threshold test than inventive step), and will provide eight years protection. The innovation patent is more suited to protect an incremental advancement on existing technology that would not satisfy the inventive step test.
All Australian patent applications must be submitted to IP Australia. Enforceable patent rights are only obtained after IP Australia conducts a search and examination of the invention. After this, there is an opportunity for the public to object on the grounds that, amongst others, the invention was not new at the time of filing the patent application. The patent specification will be published and made available to the public in exchange for the right to exploit the invention.
Time is of the essence. If the idea is ready to patent, the application should be completed sooner rather than later. In the event of two competitors racing to enter the market, IP Australia will give priority to the earlier application. In addition, it is important to avoid any public disclosure of the invention prior to filing a patent application, as this may jeopardise your ability to obtain valid patent protection.
Our team can help you with:
- Completing the patenting process in the most time-efficient and cost-effective way possible. It can be a complicated process for inventors to navigate through. The patent attorneys at HopgoodGanim have a wealth of experience to deal with this.
- Deciding if a patent is the best form of protection for your idea. A patent may be the right choice if the commercial returns outweigh the costs and the monopoly gained will lessen the risk of IP theft. However, alternative forms of protection such as trademarks and designs may be more applicable.
- Deciding whether it is the right time to go public. There are many factors to take into consideration including business models, financing and competing firms. You must publicly disclose the details of your invention to obtain a patent, which will lead to the market becoming aware of the intellectual value behind your invention.
- Whether the decision is commercially viable. The IP practitioner can help weigh up all the potential costs and benefits of the venture before advancing with the patent application.