10 March 2015

So you can’t afford a patent but you have a patentable invention? Don't start your business without a considered approach to intellectual property (IP) or it can be detrimental down the track and difficult to rectify.

In episode 5 of Shark Tank, we again saw that our entrepreneurs understood the value of protecting their IP both in Australia and overseas. It was also evident from a number of Sunday’s pitches including the hair styler and Hegs; a peg with a hook, that their first priority was protecting their most valuable asset - at any cost – for patents for inventions, along with trade marks for brands and product shape.

For some inventors, the benefits of patent protection outweigh the costs.

The final pitch for the night saw entrepreneur Brian's shark guitar attract a bid all of its own during his entertaining pitch.

Provisional patents…

Now, what if you’re strapped for cash? Does that mean you should forfeit your invention? Not necessarily, but you should consider a provisional patent application, much like Brian did for his guitar.  A provisional gives you the option of delaying your standard patent application by 12 months. In effect, it buys you time for a small fee from $110.

A lot could happen in 12 months. You could attract a new investor or grant funding. You might be able to crowd-source the money you need for a standard or innovation patent application.

So why are provisional patent applications so cheap? A provisional patent doesn’t give you patent protection by itself; it merely provides the earliest possible priority date for later standard patent application. The provisional merely describes the invention sufficiently for someone working in the industry to understand it.

One word of caution; just because provisionals are cheap, doesn’t mean you should cut corners. A detailed description of your invention can pay big dividends later down the track. Some less important aspects of your invention may turn out to be vital in the ultimately granted patent.

As entrepreneur, investor, mentor and Shark Tank judge Steve Baxter stated “knowing your stuff when it comes to trademarks and patents is essential prior to pitching your business!”’

Episode 6 of Shark Tank airs 8.00pm Sunday 15 March 2015 on TEN. Tune in to see more Aussie entrepreneurs dive into shark infested waters for what is said to be a feeding frenzy!

  • Keen to learn more about innovation patents off the back of guitar pitch? Get started with our information on Provisional applications.
  • An Australian trade mark provides protection only within Australia. If you have a great idea like Scott Boocock’s ‘Hegs’ and intend to export overseas – make sure you understand International trade marks.
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