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Note from 25 August 2021, the innovation patent will cease to exist. After this date, you can only file a divisional innovation patent if it is based on a previously filed patent. Read more about this change in our article.

Do you need to register a patent? Developing something unique can go a long way in attracting attention in your field of interest. Obtaining patent protection for your creation can provide you with a range of safeguards against competitors who may steal and reproduce your creation. This article will set out:

  • what types of patents are available in Australia; and
  • when you can patent your creation.

What Is a Patent?

A patent is a legally enforceable right that you can obtain in relation to a device, substance, method or process which is new, inventive or innovative and useful. A patent provides that you are the owner of your invention, allowing you to have the exclusive, transferable right to market your invention in order to generate income for your business. 

Some of the benefits of patenting your invention include having: 

  • the exclusive right to create, sell and license your invention; 
  • the right to stop competitors from producing or selling inventions without authorisation; 
  • a means of generating money from your invention by licensing the patent to other parties to manufacture the invention on agreed terms; and 
  • an incentive to continue researching and developing new creations.

What are the Types of Patents in Australia?

The two main types of patents that you can register in Australia are: 

You can register a standard patent for an invention that: 

  • is new;
  • involves an inventive step;
  • is useful; and 
  • is not the subject of secret use. 

You can register an innovation patent for an invention that satisfies the same criteria as a standard patent. However, this invention may be innovative rather than inventive. The innovative requirement for an innovation patent is a lower threshold of inventiveness. 

A notable difference between standard and innovation patents is that standard patents have a maximum term of twenty years if renewal fees are paid. For some pharmaceutical inventions, you can extend this to twenty-five years. On the other hand, innovation patents have a maximum term of eight years, if renewal fees are paid. 

As such, an innovation patent may be more appropriate for inventions that further advance existing technology by making improvements to said technology. Innovation patents are also useful for inventions in rapidly developing fields, such as computer technology, where a term of more than eight years may not be necessary. A standard patent may be more appropriate for an invention that is a revolutionary creation in a particular industry. 

Determining which type of patent is right for your invention is difficult. Speaking to a Patent Attorney will help you understand exactly what you need. 

What if an Invention Is Not Patented?

As an inventor, you may not need to patent your invention. An invention which is not patented but is kept secret is generally known as a trade secret. While trade secrets are free, however, they do not provide you with any intellectual property protection. This may be a good option for inventions that other people cannot easily reverse engineer.  However, a competitor may discover this secret and proceed to exploit the invention, without you being able to take action against them. 

Therefore, it is important to consider the value of a patent to your business. You should consider how likely it is that someone else:

  • will be able to reverse-engineer your invention; and
  • could take your invention and gain more prominence in the market.

Key Takeaways

Patent law is a complex field. It is important to seek legal advice in relation to the options that are available to you. Determining if a patent is the right choice for you, as well as which type of patent is best suited for your invention can be difficult. A patent attorney may assist you to find the best possible avenue to protect your invention. If you need help with registering a patent, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a patent?

A patent is a legally enforceable right that you can obtain in relation to a device, substance, method or process which is new, inventive or innovative and useful.

What types of patents are there in Australia?

The two main types of patents that you can register in Australia are standard patents and innovation patents

How long do patents last?

Standard patents have a maximum term of twenty years. For some pharmaceutical inventions, you can extend this to twenty-five years. On the other hand, innovation patents have a maximum term of eight years, if renewal fees are paid. 

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