What is a patent?
A patent is a legally enforceable and government-sanctioned right to commercially exploit an invention in the marketplace to the exclusion of all others.
The monopoly lasts for the term of the patent. This term varies with the type of patent sought, with a maximum period of 20 years.
Patents are not granted automatically. You must apply for a patent in order to protect your intellectual property.
Australian patents are administered by the Patent Office of IP Australia, a Federal Government organisation.
What can be patented?
In Australia there are two different types of patents - standard and innovation patents. A standard patent provides protection to the owner for a twenty-year term. An innovation patent lasts for an eight-year term.
To obtain a standard patent, the invention must meet the following criteria:
- be a manner of manufacture
- be novel
- be useful
- possess a sufficient level of inventiveness, otherwise known as an inventive step.
An innovation patent is designed to protect inventions that do not meet the higher inventive threshold required for standard patents. To register an innovation patent, the invention must possess an innovative step. This means that the invention must be different from what is already known, and that the difference makes a substantial contribution to the working of the invention. It is easier to meet this requirement than the inventive step threshold of a standard patent.
In certain cases it may be a commercially appropriate strategy to apply not only for a standard patent but also for an innovation patent for that same invention. An innovation patent can be divided out of the standard while the standard patent is still being examined by the Patent Office. One of the main benefits of this strategy is that you can achieve the grant of an innovation patent much earlier and obtain rights you can enforce against infringers in the meantime.
The types of inventions that qualify for patent protection are broad-ranging and include:
- products and devices
- mechanical apparatus
- business methods
- biotechnology-related products
- computer- and internet-based software and processes.
Why seek patent protection?
Obtaining a granted patent adds value to your invention and your business in the following ways:
- You can derive exclusive benefit from the financial rewards resulting from the commercialisation of the patented invention.
- You can threaten and, if required, bring patent infringement proceedings against an unauthorised user of the invention.
- Holding a patent for an invention, even in its early stages of commercialisation, ensures a strong bargaining position when negotiating with potential partners, venture capitalists and licensees.
- A patent acts as a valuable notice of your claimed rights to the invention, deterring would-be infringers or unauthorised users.
- A patent protects your investment of time and resources in the research and development of your invention.
How can Actuate IP assist?
Actuate IP's qualified patent lawyers and patent attorneys provide an expert and tailored approach to assisting with the implementation of patent strategies for businesses.
Contact Actuate IP to learn more.