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A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted over any device, substance, method or process that is new, inventive and useful (the Invention), for a limited time after a successful application process. Similar to trade marks, it is a registrable right granted by the country of registration.

Over the coming weeks, we will explore the topic of patents and its application process in Australia. This week, we will explain common terms used in discussions about patents and patent applications, including some terms used in the Patent Act 1990 (Cth) (Patent Act).



A claim defines the boundaries of your patent. The concept is similar to trade mark classes. Instead of selecting the classes of goods or services to which your patent will be used, your patent is bound by specifications(s), which sets the legal boundary of your patent right. This means, if you own a patent, you will have monopoly over how your exploit your method or product within your claim(s). Therefore it is crucial you accurately specify the scope of your patent.


If you are the owner of a patent, you are permitted to exploit it. Exploit, in relation to an Invention includes making, hiring, selling, using, importing, licensing, or assigning the product or method.

Filing Date

A filing date is the date you file your patent application (whether it is a provisional or complete application).


A patent can be owned by one party, or co-owned between a number of parties. These parties can be individual inventors or companies who have been assigned the patent rights to their employee inventors.

Person skilled in the relevant art

A person skilled in the relevant art is a hypothetical person within the particular art or technical field specified in the patent application. This is a legal concept used by patent examiners and the courts to determine the inventive or innovative step in an Invention.

Priority Date

A priority date is the date your legal claim arises. The date can be the same as the Filing Date but this is not always the case. Under section 43 of the Patent Act, it is the date used to establish the novelty of a particular invention and the disclosure of the invention in the claim, in a manner that is clear enough and complete enough to allow someone in the same field to recreate your invention. If you have more than one claim in your patent, each claim may have a different priority date.

Prior Art Base

‘Prior Art Base’ or more colloquially referred to as ‘Prior Art’ is a term defined in Schedule 1 of the Patent Act. Prior Art generally refers to information that is publicly available, or the doing of a public act, anywhere in the world. Prior Art includes patent applications that have been filed, but not yet published at the time of the priority date in question. This concept is important because it can affect the inventive step or innovative step which must be satisfied to secure a patent.


The area of patent law can be highly technical and complex to those who aren’t experts in the field. Securing a patent is also not a simple or straightforward process. This process can be more complex and lengthy if you are looking to secure your patent in multiple jurisdictions. Our team of IP lawyers and patent attorneys have extensive experience in this area and would be happy to assist with protecting your invention. To speak with a member of our team today, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755.


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