What is a patent?
A patent is a right granted for any device, substance, method or process which is new, inventive and useful. It is legally enforceable and gives you (the owner) the right to prevent another party from commercially exploiting the invention for the life of the patent.
Do I need a patent?
This is ultimately a commercial decision. Many factors need to be considered including cost, likelihood of copying, scope of available protection and method of exploitation.
Put simply, a patent should provide a commercial benefit in the market place or some other benefit.
Are there different types of patents?
Yes. There are different types of patents for varying commercial situations. Each type has different structures and features and we recommend that you speak with us to determine which option best suits your needs.
What is patentable?
This varies from country to country. In Australia, most technologies are patentable provided the invention is novel and has ‘inventiveness’. Examples include manufactured products, methods or processes for making products.
You cannot patent methods of creating human life, unlawful or immoral acts, artistic creations, mathematical models, plans, schemes, pure business methods or other purely mental processes. However, practical use of such methods may be able to be protected.
Why should I patent?
The grant of a patent is a statutory monopoly to make, use or sell inventive creations or to consent to others to make, use or sell i.e. a license, franchise etc. Like insurance, a patent protects investment or provides protection against copiers.
Are patents expensive?
The cost for each patent must be considered relative to the benefits of protection offered and the cost involved in researching and developing the invention.
Costs of initial patent applications vary from country to country. There are additional costs in progressing an application to a granted patent. Regional patent applications can protect multiple countries at a fraction of the cost for individual countries. Regional applications are available in Europe, Eurasia and some African countries.
Does my Australian patent cover me overseas?
No. Generally each county has their own patent system. Patent rights are restricted to each country. Virtually all countries in the world have a patent system and it is possible to obtain protection overseas through your Australian attorney.
There is no such thing as a worldwide patent. There is however, an international application in which a patent option can be taken out in over 140 countries. Ultimately this system requires you to select the countries in which you actually wish to obtain the patent and undertake further steps with associated costs in each of these designated countries.
What does ‘patent pending’ mean?
Patent pending refers to an invention for which a patent application has been lodged but not yet granted. The term is mainly used to alert competitors and the public-at-large, that the inventor is seeking formal IP rights to protect the technology.
What are the alternatives to patenting?
Generally there are two alternatives to patenting. Each is suitable in different circumstances. If an invention has a short market life or a restricted market which would be easily saturated, an owner may wish to rely on the first to market advantage and not secure patent protection. The option of obtaining a patent may be lost after the invention has been disclosed to the public. The first to market advantage is an option which requires very careful commercial consideration before adoption.
If the invention can be protected by keeping it a trade secret the owner may decide not to file a patent application. However if the trade secret becomes public all protection will be lost and the competition may adopt the invention.
For either of these options, we strongly recommend that you speak with us to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
Is confidentiality important?
It is very important that you keep your idea or product confidential (use confidentiality agreements for employees, business partners or advisers) until you file your patent application. You might lose the opportunity to patent your invention if you sell or discuss it in public before your application is filed.
Where should I start?
If you would like more information about filing a patent, please contact us.