Time and costs
There are time limits and costs that you must take into account when applying for and maintaining a patent.
Fees are payable at different stages through the patent process.
Application fees in Australia
Fees vary depending on the type of patent you are applying for.
If you file a provisional or complete application and do not pay the filing fee at that time, we will send you a notice advising you of the fee and setting a time limit of two months from the date of our notice to pay the fee in full. If you do not pay, your application will lapse.
Annual continuation or renewal fees must be paid on all patent applications and patents if you want them to remain in force. The cost varies depending on the type of patent and the number of years that have passed since you filed it. These fees are usually due on or before the anniversary of the filing date of your complete application.
International application fees
Fees for patents in other countries depend on which system of application you choose.
Filing separate patent applications in each country can be cost effective if you choose to file in only a few countries.
If you file an application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), your national filing costs in the countries you wish to get a patent in are due approximately 30 months from your priority date for most countries and 31 months for Australia. Please check each country's requirements to ensure the correct fees are paid on time.
If you choose to pursue patent protection without professional advice you should take extreme care to understand the fees you will be required to pay and when you are required to pay them.
Examinations and searches
Fees are payable for examinations and for searches done in the case of patent applications filed under the PCT.
Innovation patents do not have to be examined. If you wish, you can keep your patent as an unexamined innovation patent and never request examination. If competitors request examination of your innovation patent, they have to pay half of the examination fee and you have to pay the other half. If you do not pay, the patent will cease.
Standard patent applications must be examined. If you haven't requested examination yourself, anywhere up to 55 months from your earliest priority date you will be directed to request examination and pay the examination fee. You have six months to request examination from the date of this direction. If you fail to request examination and pay the fee your application will lapse.
Important: If the direction to request examination is issued on or after 15 April 2013, you will only have two months from the date of the direction to request examination or your application will lapse.
Both innovation and standard patents must be examined before you can enforce your rights.
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
If you have filed an Australian provisional application with a view to filing a PCT application, you can pay for a patentability search to be carried out by us on your invention before you file your PCT application.
When you file your PCT application you must pay the full international search fee. If we have already conducted a patentability search for the same invention, you may request a partial refund of the international search fee. The amount of the refund will depend on how much additional searching we need to do on your PCT application taking into account the results of your patentability search.
Fees must be paid for a PCT application within 1 month of filing the application otherwise late fees will apply. Failure to pay these fees will result in the application being withdrawn.
You will also need to pay various national fees in each country where you choose to begin the national phase. Failure to pay a fee can have serious consequences for the protection of your rights.
Length of protection
A standard patent gives long-term protection over an invention. It lasts for up to 20 years (or 25 years for pharmaceutical substances).
An innovation patent is a relatively quick and inexpensive way to protect an advancement on existing technology rather than a groundbreaking invention. Protection lasts for a maximum of 8 years.
Patent protection stops if the patent is not renewed by paying annual maintenance fees.
Oppositions and hearings
Parties involved in patent oppositions and ownership disputes can give evidence in a hearing before the delegate of the Commissioner for Patents.
Costs are involved in opposition proceedings - such as the fee for filing the notice of opposition or appearing at the hearing.
Last Updated: 24/1/2013