Step 1. Do your research
Before applying, make sure you:
- Understand what a patent is and what can be patented
- Keep your invention a secret or confirm that you're within the 12 month grace period
- Decide if your idea is worth pursuing now, or if a provisional patent application is better suited to your needs
- Choose if you're filing a standard, international (PCT) or a provisional application
- Understand how much filing a patent will cost, and that there are annual fees.
Step 2. Determine who owns the patent
A patent can be owned by:
- The inventor(s)
- The person who has legally obtained rights to the invention from the inventor(s) or an intermediary
- A company, organisation or other employer of someone who made the invention in the course of their normal duties.
Step 3. Search existing patents
Conduct a thorough search to make sure your invention hasn't already been created.
You should search:
- The internet, including social media
- Patent databases, including international databases.
If your invention has already been shared publicly before you apply for a patent, it won't be eligible for protection. Provisional patents
Step 4. Gather your documents and write your specification
- Ownership and inventor details (including postal address)
- Contact details of an Australian or New Zealand agent
- Prepared specification that describes your invention in detail, formatted in line with our guidelines
- Payment details.
In certain circumstances it may be necessary to provide a sequence listing as part of the application.
Step 5. File your application
You'll need to:
- Create an account with our online services
- Fill out your application form. The application process itself takes only around 15 minutes to file online and you can save your progress as you go
- Upload your specification
- (Optional) Request examination at the time of filing
- (Optional) Request that your standard patent application be processed faster than usual with an expedited examination
- (Optional) Claim priority from an earlier application, such as a provisional
- (Optional) Indicate if this is a divisional application or a patent of addition.
You'll receive a filing notice with the details of your application.
Step 6. Your application is published on the Australian patent database
- Your invention becomes public knowledge, and the contents of your application aren't confidential anymore
- The publication date is set.
Step 7. Request examination
Once you've submitted your application, you (or another person) can request examination. This can be done when you file or at any time after you file your patent application. This process comes with a
You have up to five years from your filing date to request examination and pay the associated fee. If you don't, your patent application will lapse.
It can take up to 12 months for your patent application to be examined.
You can also request an expedited examination to have your patent examined faster.
Step 8. Respond to issues raised
If there are any issues raised during our examination, you'll have 12 months to resolve them. If you can't overcome them, your application will lapse.
Step 9. See the outcome
We'll let you know the outcome via your online services inbox. If your application passes our examination process, it will be accepted and the following happens:
- Your patent gets published for three months in the Australian Official Journal of Patents (AOJP) and for three months on the Australian Patent Search
- Anyone can oppose your patent during this time
- If no-one opposes your patent, your patent application will be granted
- This protection lasts for up to 20 years for standard patents and 25 years for pharmaceutical patents
- You'll need to pay regular renewal fees to manage your patent protection
- Once granted, you can take legal action for any infringements that occur on and after the publication date.
Need help with your patent application?
If you're a small to medium business, you could be eligible to use our free patent case manager service.
If you'd like legal advice or hands-on help with your application, you should consider engaging a patent attorney.