First Steps

  • You can find a patent attorney by asking for recommendations from other business owners, your industry association, or at at the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board website (1).
  • Usually your first contact will be a brief phone call where the attorney will try to establish if you have something that could be patented.
  • The attorney also wants to confirm that they don’t have a conflict of interest with another client with a similar invention.

The meeting

  • Next step is a meeting. The attorney will find out more about your invention, how you intend to make money from it and what already exists in the market.
  • The attorney will also want to know if you have disclosed your invention to anyone else, because this could affect your ability to patent it.
  • They will discuss your options with you, including what type of patent to seek, when to seek it and whether you should seek patent protection overseas, and if so, in which countries.
  • They should also give you a good indication of what the process should cost. Most attorneys will give you a firm quote for the first stage of the patent process, such as securing an Australian patent.

Your attorney is your guide

  • Your attorney is your guide through the patent process. They won’t tell you what to do.
  • They do not work for or represent IP Australia or any other part of government.
  • All decisions are ultimately up to you, although you should draw on the experience and expertise of your attorney to help you make them.


  • It's important that you work with an attorney you can trust.
  • If you withhold relevant information from them then this could hamper their ability to work in your best interests.
  • Patent attorneys have to abide by a government code of conduct that requires them to be courteous, ethical and well informed and forbids them from acting in a deceitful or fraudulent manner.
  • They also have their own industry code of ethics which forbids them from acquiring intellectual property rights where there is a potential conflict of interest.