Do you have an awesome idea? Firstly, SHHHH! Please keep it secret. Secondly, have you had a look to see if it’s already been invented? If it hasn’t, a patent might be worth considering.
A patent gives you the exclusive right to sell, manufacture and licence your new product, it also allows you to stop others from copying your invention. If you have an idea worth protecting, our patents webinar will help you to understand what you need to know to protect your product or invention.
What you will learn in this webinar:
- The different types of patent protection
- Is a patent the right choice?
- What makes a good patent specification
- The basics of patent searching
- How to apply for a patent
- How to engage an IP attorney to support your application.
- What is a provisional application?
Provisional applications are a bit different to other patent applications because they don’t result in a granted patent without further action. Think of a provisional application as a placeholder or precursor to filing a complete application for a standard patent or an innovation patent.
Generally, the priority date for your invention is the date you first filed a patent application that described your invention in detail. It establishes the fact that you are the first person to file this invention. To get the earliest possible priority date on your invention, you can file a provisional application. A provisional application also gives you time to perform market research, seek funding, or build prototypes before deciding to commit to filing an application for a patent.
If you do decide to apply for a standard or innovation patent you will need to file this within 12 months of your provisional application. If you do then you can use the priority date from your provisional application. This can be particularly useful if there is a dispute over who came up with an idea first. Your provisional application will lapse after 12 months.
To apply for a provisional application you need to file your specification – a description of how your invention works, claims that define what you are seeking protection for , and any drawings. You can find more information about what to include in our Patent application guide. You can file your provisional application as well as pay the filing fee using our online services.
- What is a standard patent?
A standard patent is a legally enforceable right that will give you exclusive commercial rights to your invention for up to 20 year from when you file your application. For your application to be successful, your invention must be new, useful, inventive and subject matter than can be patented. Find out more about what types of inventions can be patented on our website.
To apply for a standard patent you can file an application with us using our online services. With your application you will need to provide a specification. This is a document that includes a description on how your invention works, claims that define what you are seeking protection for , and any drawings. You can find more information about what to include in our Patent application guide.
After filing your application, you must ask for your patent application to be examined. If your application meets the legislative requirements after being examined, it will be accepted and a patent granted. Once granted, you can enforce your patent. Find more about the application process on our website.
- What is an innovation patent?
An innovation patent is a legally enforceable right that will give you exclusive commercial rights to your invention for up to 8 year from when you file your application. For your application to be successful, your invention must be new, useful, innovative, and be subject matter than can be patented. Some types of inventions can’t be patented and these are discussed on our website.
To apply for an innovation patent you can file an application with us using our online services. With your application you will need to provide a specification. This is a document that includes a description how your invention works, claims that define what you are seeking protection for , and any drawings. You can find more information about what to include in our Patent application guide.
Your innovation patent will be granted when it if filed. However, you are not able to enforce your patent until it has been examined and certified. You will need to request examination. If your application meets the legislative requirements after examination, it will then be certified. You can only enforce your patent after it has been certified. Find more about the innovation application process on our website.
You should be aware that the innovation patent is being phased out and the last day file a new innovation patent is 25 August 2021. More information about the phase out can be found on our website.
- What is the difference between a patent and a trade secret?
A patent is a registered form of protection for your IP – you need to apply for a patent and have it examined to ensure it meets certain requirements. Part of the process includes us publishing your patent specification so that others can see what you have invented.
A trade secret is a way to protect your IP if you don’t need to or you don’t want to make public what your invention is. It is an unregistered form of IP in that you don’t need to apply for protection. A well-known example of a trade secret is the recipe of Coke Cola.
Generally, a patent may be useful if your invention can be reverse engineered, i.e. how your invention works or how it can be manufactured can be replicated by someone else. A trade secret may be more useful if your invention can’t be easily recreated; for example, if it is embedded in source code or perhaps it is the processes and methods in your business that you provide as a service.
Keeping your idea a trade secret actually may be a necessity because not all ideas can be patented, this is particularly the case for schemes, business methods, and mathematical models.
- Will copyright protect me globally?
Although there is no global copyright law, material created by Australians is recognised in most countries overseas. For more information, see the Australian Copyright Council’s information sheet ‘Copyright Protection in Other Countries’.
- What is an NDA and should I be using one?
An NDA, or non-disclosure agreement, is a legally binding contractual arrangement between two parties; for example, yourself and the manufacturer of your invention. They can be used to protect your ideas before you have a patent in place so you can engage with market researchers, manufacturers, venture capitalists and the like. Our IP Toolkit provides example contracts that you may find useful.
- What is IP licencing?
Once you have secured a patent you may want to work with a third party to collaborate on a project, or perhaps they will be a reseller or local distributor for your new product. IP Licensing is the agreement where you provide the third party the right to use your IP. You can find more about IP licensing in our IT Toolkit.
- What is an inventive step?
Along with novelty and usefulness one of the key requirements of your standard patent application is that it involves an inventive step. An inventive step is the test we apply when we consider the difference between the product or process in your patent application and the most similar product or process that has come before. In order to be inventive, this difference must not be obvious to a person working in the same field as your application. You can find more information about an inventive step in our Patent application guide.
- What is the different between the Innovation patent and Standard patent?
Innovation and standard patents differ in their cost, the length of protection they offer, the time they take to process, the legal threshold, and the type of invention they seek to cover.
An innovation patent can provide protection for your idea for up to 8 years, but a standard patent can be up to 20 years. Innovation patents are limited to 5 claims and your idea needs to be new (novel) and innovative. There is no limit on the number of claims in a standard patent, your idea still needs to be new (novel) but it will also need to meet a higher threshold called an inventive step.
The innovation patent was intended to be used for simpler inventions that you may want to protect for a shorter period. However, the government has determined that the innovation patent does not meet its objectives and will be phasing out the system by August 2021. More information about the phase out can be found on our website.
You can find more information about the difference between standard and innovation patents on our website.
- How can I check if a patent for my invention already exists?
A good place to start is AusPat - the Australian patent database. You will find details of all applications within Australia including granted and lapsed patents. A search of AusPat can help identify patents for inventions that are the same as yours. The information can also be useful to ensure you are not infringing on another person’s patent.
Many patent offices have similar tools that allow you to search their patent. The European Patent Office has an extensive collection of patents from across the globe; and don’t forget to do a Google search too including using the Google Patents tool.
You can find more information on patent searching on our website.
- Can I apply for a patent that already exists overseas?
If your invention is the same as the overseas patent, then no, you shouldn’t apply for a patent in Australia. This is because the idea for your invention is not new and this is one of the requirements we check before granting you a patent.