What does a patent attorney do?
A patent attorney is an expert in intellectual property (IP) law who can help secure and protect your IP rights. You can draw on their wealth of experience and expertise to help you make decisions.
Patent attorneys have tertiary qualifications in fields with patentable subject matter, such as engineering, science or information technology. This helps them better understand the technical aspects of your invention and necessary legal requirements for securing patent protection.
How can they help me?
A patent attorney can:
- Determine the nature of your invention
- Determine if your invention is new and inventive
- Conduct a comprehensive search of existing patents
- Help you prepare a patent specification
- Prepare and lodge your patent application on your behalf
- Advise on infringement on IP rights belonging to you or someone else
- Manage your IP portfolio
- Help you secure trade marks and industrial designs in Australia and overseas.
To get the most value out of your working relationship, it's important to engage an attorney that you trust. It's okay to discuss your idea with an attorney as they are bound by professional standards, including confidentiality. If you don't share all relevant information with them, it could hamper their ability to work in your best interests.
How much should I expect it to cost?
If you decide to use an attorney, you will have additional legal fees on top of your application costs. As a guide, most applicants find it costs somewhere between $4,000 and $7,000 to draft your specification and prepare your application.
The fees will vary depending on the attorney and firm that you use. You should ask your attorney for an indication of how much the entire process may cost during your first meeting.
Where can I find an attorney?
You can search for a registered patent attorney or firm using the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board directory.
Tips for meeting with your attorney
When you first meet with your patent attorney, they'll want to know everything about your invention, so it's a good idea be prepared. Some attorneys charge lower fees to well-organised clients as it means less work.
What to bring
Be prepared to bring:
- A description of how your invention works — you should be able to explain how it differs from anything else already in the market and what problem you're trying to solve
- Any sketches, plans or CAD drawings you've developed
- Any models you may have
- Your business/commercialisation plan — this should cover development, manufacturing, marketing and where you intend to sell your product. This will help your attorney determine your patent strategy
- Details of who your competitors are and what they offer in the market.
Do a patent search
- Do a search of existing patents before your meeting and bring the results with you. Even if you’re not sure if they’re relevant, your attorney will be able to decide if they are.
Be prepared to fully disclose
You'll need to tell your patent attorney if you've disclosed your invention in any way, including:
- What information you disclosed
- Where it happened
- The date of the disclosure.
To help you prepare for your first meeting, here's a prompt sheet you can fill out beforehand.
What to expect
At your meeting, your patent attorney will discuss your options with you, including:
- What type of patent to apply for
- When to apply for it
- Whether you should seek patent protection overseas, and if so, in which countries.