Patents grant monopoly rights over an invention for a fixed period of time. It allows the inventor to commercialise their invention by either:
Patents ensure that competitors in the marketplace cannot manufacture your invention without your authority to do so.
You may apply for patents in many different countries. IP Australia can perform an international type search on your invention once you have filed a provisional patent. This will help you to determine the likelihood of a granted patent before you make a heavy investment to patent in multiple countries.
Patents can focus on being the end user product or can be a component in the end user product. For example, an iPhone contains multiple patents that Apple have purchased or licensed to include within it. Thomas Edison developed the light globe by purchasing several other patents, extracting certain parts and creating one end user product.
Skilled experts must prepare patents, as their wording is extremely important. You always need to consider that someone is going to try and copy your invention. You cannot draft the patent and later claim that you did not mean it in that way.
If there is money to be made from your invention, others will seek to find weaknesses in your patent and attempt to erode your monopoly rights.
The two patents that exist are standard patents and innovation patents. The first deals with inventions while the latter deals with innovations. There are specific differences.
A provisional patent allows you to file your application with IP Australia, with 12 months to file the standard full application. This allows you to gain the earliest possible priority date against possible competitors, without having to commit yourself to the time and expense of a standard full application.
Provisional patent applications give you time to assess the economic benefits of pursuing the full standard patent. You will be able to talk to potential customers and possible licensees to establish the commercial viability of the patent.
It is obviously difficult to talk to customers and possible licensees even with a confidentiality agreement in place prior to submitting any patent application.
IP Australia will not disclose the workings of a provisional patent, but will disclose the invention title and the applicant’s name.
Standard patents are for inventions. They provide protection for 20 years from the date you file your full application and 25 years for pharmaceutical substances.
You can apply for standard patents in Australia or overseas. You can make overseas applications in each individual country or under the patent co-operation treaty (PCT). A PCT application can see your application submitted to 148 different countries.
In order to qualify for a patent, the public cannot have had the invention disclosed to them. Only the professionals involved in the patenting process may have had the invention disclosed to them.
A patent will only be granted when, compared to the prior art base (other inventions), the invention is novel, new, and involves an inventive step and it has a commercial application. An invention involves an inventive step If a step is not obvious to anyone that is skilled in the appropriate, relevant area.
Innovation patents are for innovations that do not meet the threshold of an invention. They last 8 years and must be renewed each year. An innovation capable of obtaining protection is one that improves and significantly changes the workings of another invention.
Innovation patents are not examined by IP Australia. However, you can request an examination in order to obtain the necessary protections from an innovation patent. Without an examination the patent protection is unenforceable.
You must make individual applications for innovation patents in each country that you seek protection. They are not subject to any co-operation treaty in this regard, which you will find with standard patents.
An innovation patent can be a very effective way to improve and then monopolise working improvements to everyday inventions both new and old.
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