FOR IP PROFESSIONALS

Enforcing your design

There are three main differences between standard and innovation patents.

  • The innovation patent is a relatively inexpensive form of IP protection. It is quick and easy to obtain for inventions that have a short commercial life or that offer comparatively small advances over existing technology but which do not have the inventive step required to get a standard patent.
  • The standard patent provides longer protection for inventions that have a longer development and commercialisation cycle. An innovation patent may be granted for the same subject matter as a standard patent but it has a shorter term of protection - 8 years as opposed to 20.
  • It is not necessary to have an innovation patent examined before grant (or even at any time after grant). However an innovation patent must be examined and certified before you can enforce your rights. A standard patent application must be examined and a patent then granted before you can enforce your rights. In both cases a fee must be paid prior to examination. Failure to pay the examination fee results in the standard patent application lapsing or the innovation patent ceasing.

Can an innovation patent be converted to a standard patent?

You can convert an innovation patent to a standard patent application in the period before it is accepted, but you have to be quick. That's because an innovation patent is accepted after a brief formalities check, which is usually within one month.

Quick guide to innovation versus standard patents

  Innovation patent Standard patent
Your invention must: Be new, useful and involve an innovative step Be new, useful and involve an inventive step
The application should include: A title, description, up to 5 claims, drawings (if applicable), an abstract and forms A title, description, any number of claims, drawings (if applicable), an abstract and forms
A patent is granted if: The application satisfies formality requirements (note: a 'granted' innovation patent cannot be enforced unless examined) The application is examined and found to satisfy the relevant requirements of the Patents Act 1990 
Examination: Optional. Examination can be requested by you or anyone else Mandatory. The relevant requirements of the Patents Act 1990 must be met before a patent is granted. Can only be requested by the applicant.
Certification: If the innovation patent complies with the relevant requirements of the Patents Act 1990 in examination; only after certification can the patent be enforced N/A
Publication in the Australian Official Journal of Patents: At grant and again at certification 18 months from earliest priority date and again at acceptance
Protection period: Up to eight years, if annual fees paid Up to 20 years, if annual fees paid (or up to 25 years for pharmaceuticals)
How long does the process take? Approximately 1 month for grant. Six months for examination if you make a request.Six months to several years depending on circumstances

Last Updated: 23/11/2013

Meet Keith
Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

Policy Officer -  International Policy & Cooperation
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