FOR IP PROFESSIONALS

Is a patent the right choice

If you have developed a new device, substance, method or process you should decide whether patenting it should be part of your business strategy.

Some points to consider:

  • Does a patent offer the best protection for your invention?
  • Can you be granted a patent?
  • Do you have all the information required to file a patent application?

You can decide whether you need a patent before having to pay any major costs.

Filing a provisional application is quite inexpensive and gives you 12 months to consider the commercial worth of your invention and to resolve issues such as finance and licensing. Then you can decide whether to continue with patent protection.

A provisional patent does not provide you with patent protection on its own. You will need to file a complete application within 12 month of applying for a provisional application.

You can also consider a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application, which gives you a quick indication of whether your invention can be patented. There is then time for you to decide which countries where you want to have protection for your invention.

Points to Consider

Consider patenting if:

  • the potential for commercial returns outweighs the time, effort and money required to get and maintain a patent
  • the limited monopoly a patent offers would help lessen the risks of IP theft in the markets you are interested in
  • you have the resources to manage your intellectual property
  • a thorough search reveals no other similar technology; and
  • you own the invention and have kept it a secret.

Do your research and ensure you:

  • apply for the appropriate form of protection; and
  • have the necessary documentation for your patent application.

What if I decide not to patent?

Having considered all the issues, you may decide that patenting is not the best option for you and you prefer to keep your invention as a trade secret. In that case you would have to assess the risk of someone discovering your invention through industrial espionage or, if your invention is a product, by reverse engineering.

You also need to consider the consequences of someone else independently developing the same invention.

Another alternative is to openly use and publish details about your invention. This will prevent someone else obtaining a patent for the same thing but could also allow your competitors to freely use your invention for their own benefit.

Last Updated: 03/4/2014

Meet Anne
Bachelor of Arts (History & Genetics)

Trade Mark Examiner since 2005
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