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© 2018 Halfords IP - Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys

Patents

Providing 20 years of protection, patents are a powerful and persuasive commercial tool.

About Patents

 

A Patent may be obtained for almost anything that is commercially useful…such as a new product, device, machine, process or method.

 

A Patent protects the way in which a product or process works…its ‘functionality’.

 

A Patent provides you the exclusive rights to prevent others from producing a product or implementing a method that works the same way.

 

The Patent Office grants you these rights for a period of time (20 years for a standard patent) as a ‘reward’ to you for inventing your product or process, and for disclosing your invention in your Patent application, for the long term benefit of society.

 

After your Patent expires, your exclusive rights run out, and anyone may thereafter use the information, and implement the invention.

 

You should therefore treat any Patent/Application as one of your ‘commercial tools’ in business. That is, it is a commercial tool to maximise the profits in exploiting your rights during the term of the Patent.

Getting started

 

THE PROVISIONAL APPLICATION

Filing a Provisional Patent Application is usually the first step in the Patent process, regardless as to whether you are seeking a Standard Patent or an Innovation Patent.

 

The Provisional Patent Application establishes a ‘priority date’, and provides 12 months ‘international’ protection for your invention.

 

Once the Provisional Patent Application has been filed at the Patent Office, you can proceed to make, use and sell your product.

NEXT STEPS

 

Within 12 months of filing the Provisional Patent Application, you need to file a Complete Patent Application in Australia. If you want overseas Patent protection, any overseas Patent Applications, and/or an International ‘PCT’ Patent Application should be filed at this time.

 

Australia has two types of  Patents. The type of Complete Patent Application you should file depends on a number of factors, some of which are as follows:

 

Standard Patents,

  • last up to 20 years, and,

  • need an ‘inventive step’.

 

Innovation Patents

  • only last up to 8 years,

  • only need an ‘innovative step’, which is a lower threshold than for a Standard Patent, and,

  • are typically quicker and less costly to obtain, but are also meant to protect more ‘minor’ innovations.

Standard Patents

 

BASIC DETAILS

A Standard Patent provides up to 20 years protection for your invention.

 

A Standard Patent Application is typically filed within 12 months of filing a Provisional Patent Application, for an  invention which satisfies the ‘inventive step’ threshold.

 

If, it doesn’t meet this threshold, then you may want to consider filing an ‘Innovation Patent’ Application. 


STANDARD PATENT SPECIFICATION

 

The Patent specification must provide a detailed description of the invention, should ideally include drawings showing all the details of the invention, and, include ‘claims’ defining the invention.

 

The ‘claims’ are a vital part of the Patent specification, as these will be interpreted by your competitors and/or the law courts in analysing the scope of protection of your Patent.


PUBLICATION OF YOUR INVENTION

 

The contents of your patent specification are automatically published by the Australian Patent Office, 18 months after the ‘priority date’ of your invention …which is usually the provisional application filing date.

EXAMINATION PROCESS

 

Before the Patent is granted, it must go through an ‘Examination’ process.

 

Examination must be requested at any time within 5 years, or, within 2 months of the Patent Office issuing you a ‘direction’ to request examination.

 

A Patent Office Examiner will then review the specification, conduct a ‘prior art’ search, and, issue an ‘Examination Report’ which typically outlines any ‘objections’ to:

  • novelty,

  • inventive step, and,

  • ‘patentable’ subject matter.

 

Often, these ‘objections’ will be capable of being overcome by making amendments to the ‘claims’ of your invention and/or presenting argument to the Examiner, outlining the differences and advantages of your invention.

 

ACCEPTANCE

 

When the Examiner agrees that the specification satisfies the criteria, the patent application will be ‘accepted’.

 

‘Acceptance’ of the Patent application is then published, such that opportunity is provided for others to file an ‘Opposition’ to the grant of the patent. By way of example, if someone presented evidence that they were selling the same product prior to the ‘priority date’, then they may successfully prevent a Patent being granted.

PATENT GRANTED

 

A Standard Patent is granted for a term of 20 years, however, annual renewal fees (after the first 5 years) must be paid to keep the Patent alive.

 

The Patent is then able to be enforced against an alleged infringer.

1.4_11_2018HIP_Australian-Standard-Paten

Typical steps, timeline, and costs etc. outlined as a guide only, and may vary depending on complexity, IP strategy, etc.

©2018 Halfords IP 

Innovation Patents

BASIC DETAILS

An Innovation Patent provides up to 8 years protection for your invention.

 

An Innovation Patent Application may alternatively be filed instead of a Standard Patent Application within 12 months of filing a Provisional Patent Application.

 

An Innovation Patent has a lower inventive threshold than the ‘inventive step’ of a Standard Patent Application, known as ‘innovative step’.

 

A Standard Patent Application may also be converted into an Innovation Patent Application, and this is sometimes done as a ‘fallback’ option in the event of ‘inventiveness’ difficulties being encountered during examination.


INNOVATION PATENT SPECIFICATION

 

The Patent specification must provide a detailed description of the invention, should ideally include drawings showing all the details of the invention, and, include ‘claims’ defining the invention.

 

An Innovation Patent may only have a maximum of 5 claims.

 

The ‘claims’ are a vital part of the Patent specification, as these will be interpreted by your competitors and/or the law courts in analysing the scope of protection of your Patent.

 

FORMALITIES COMPLIANCE

 

Shortly after the innovation Patent Application is filed, the application is assessed to check that it complies with a number of ‘formality’ requirements. If it does, then it is immediately ‘granted’.

 

However, a ‘granted’ Innovation Patent cannot be enforced against an infringer, unless it is ‘examined’ and ‘certified’.


PUBLICATION OF INNOVATION PATENTS

 

The Innovation Patent specification is immediately automatically published by the Australian Patent Office as soon as it is granted. As such, your competitors can immediately see details of your invention at this stage, which may typically be a short time after the Innovation Patent Application has been filed.

 

OPTIONAL EXAMINATION

 

Before an Innovation Patent can be enforced against a competitor, it must be examined and ‘Certified’.

 

Examination may be requested at any time.

 

A Patent Office Examiner will then review the specification, conduct a ‘prior art’ search, and, issue an ‘Examination Report’ which typically outlines any ‘objections’ to:

  • novelty,

  • innovative step, and,

  • ‘patentable’ subject matter.

 

Often, these ‘objections’ will be capable of being overcome by making amendments to the ‘claims’ of your invention and/or presenting argument to the Examiner, outlining the differences and advantages of your invention.

CERTIFICATION OF INNOVATION PATENT

 

When the Examiner agrees that the specification satisfies the criteria, the Innovation Patent will be ‘certified’.

 

The specification of the certified Innovation Patent is again automatically published by the Australian Patent Office.

 

Once the Innovation Patent has been ‘certified’, it is possible to enforce the Patent against an infringer.

 

An Innovation Patent lasts for a maximum term of 8 years, subject to payment of annual renewal fees.

Typical steps, timeline, and costs etc. outlined as a guide only, and may vary depending on complexity, IP strategy, etc.

©2018 Halfords IP 

Protection overseas

 

An Australian Patent only protects you in Australia.

 

If you wish to protect your invention overseas, you need to pursue Patent protection in the countries/regions of interest.

 

There is no such thing as an ‘international patent’, although there are some ‘regional patents’, such as a single ‘European Patent’.

 

There are two options for getting overseas Patents, by either filing:

  • separate applications in the country/ region, or

  • an International ‘PCT’ patent application.

 

FILING SEPARATE OVERSEAS APPLICATIONS

Australia has international agreements allowing Australian Patent Applicants to file Patent Applications in most foreign countries within 12 months of the first Australian Patent Application while retaining the original priority date.


FILING AN INTERNATIONAL ‘PCT’ APPLICATION

Australia is also a member of the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT), which allows an International PCT Application to be filed by Australian Patent Applicants seeking overseas Patent rights in more than just a few countries.

PCT Application

BASIC DETAILS

An International PCT Patent Application is typically filed within 12 months of filing the initial Provisional Patent Application, to effectively ‘extend’ ‘international’ protection for an invention in the (approximately 150) PCT countries, for a period of (usually) 30 months from the ‘priority date’.

At the end of this period, you must ultimately select the countries in you wish to pursue Patents, and initiate separate national/ regional Patent Applications in those countries/ regions of interest.

 

PCT PATENT SPECIFICATION

 

The PCT patent specification must provide a detailed description of the invention, should ideally include drawings showing all the details of the invention, and, include ‘claims’ defining the invention.

 

The ‘claims’ are a vital part of the Patent specification, as these will be interpreted by your competitors and/or the law courts in analysing the scope of protection of your Patent.

PUBLICATION OF YOUR INVENTION

 

The contents of your Patent specification are automatically published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation(WIPO) 18 months after the ‘priority date’ of your invention …which is usually the Provisional Application filing date.

INTERNATIONAL SEARCH REPORT & OPINION

 

A few months after filing an International PCT Application, the PCT Examiner conducts an international search of the invention and issues a written opinion outlining comments on novelty, inventive step and patentability.

 

Once this is received, we can then review any documents identified by the PCT Examiner, and then prepare amendments to the claims, together with comments for further review by the Examiner.  

INTERNATIONAL PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION

 

We can then request the PCT Examiner to further consider the invention in light of any claim amendments and/or argument in rebuttal of the Examiner’s initial opinion, by filing a ‘Demand for International Preliminary Examination’.

 

An objective of going through this process is to obtain a ‘positive’ opinion from the Examiner in relation to novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability of the invention.

 

INTERNATIONAL PRELIMINARY REPORT ON PATENTABILITY (IPRP)

 

The PCT Examiner then issues a Report outlining his final Opinion on Patentability following any submissions made by the Applicant.

 

This report is communicated to the various National/ Regional Patent Offices, for the Examiners in those Patent Offices to take into consideration during any later examination processes in the countries which are selected by the Patent Applicant to enter the ‘national/ regional phase’ of the Application.

ENTERING THE NATIONAL/REGIONAL PHASE

 

The Applicant must then select the countries in which Patent protection is still to be pursued. This is known as ‘entering the national/regional phases’ of the PCT Application. That is, out of the (approximately 150) PCT countries which are members of the PCT, the Applicant must select the countries in which to proceed. Filing fees must then be paid to the relevant national/regional Patent Offices.

 

The national/regional Applications will then individually be examined according to the Patent laws of the particular Patent Office.

 

In some countries/regions, the examination process will be quite streamlined if a ‘positive’ opinion has previously issued in the IPRP, and may result in a relatively quick and less costly examination process than may have otherwise occurred.

Typical steps, timeline, and costs etc. outlined as a guide only, and may vary depending on complexity, IP strategy, etc.

©2018 Halfords IP 

Patent FAQ

 

WHO CAN APPLY FOR A PATENT?

A Patent can only be granted to an Inventor(s), or to a person/company who has ‘entitlement’ to the invention from the Inventor(s).

IS MY EMPLOYER ENTITLED TO MY INVENTION?

If an Inventor is an Employee, and it is within the scope of the employees duties to ‘invent’, then, under common law, the Employer may automatically have ‘entitlement’ to the rights of the invention.

SHOULD I FILE A STANDARD PATENT OR AN INNOVATION PATENT?

This really depends on how ‘inventive’ your invention is. Some of the main differences are:

 

Standard Patents,

  • last up to 20 years, and,

  • need an ‘inventive step’.

 

Innovation Patents

  • only last up to 8 years,

  • only need an ‘innovative step’, which is a lower threshold than for a Standard Patent, and,

  • are typically quicker and less costly to obtain, but are also meant to protect more ‘minor’ innovations

 

WHAT TYPE OF THINGS ARE NOT PATENTABLE?

 

For an invention to be patentable, it must be considered to be a ‘manner of manufacture’. A ‘patentable’ invention must have a certain ‘technical’ quality, rather than being for aesthetics, pure mathematics, or for business schemes or plans.

In Australia, there is some difficulty in patenting business methods, software, etc.


CAN I STILL GET A PATENT IF I HAVE ALREADY MADE, USED OR SOLD MY INVENTION?

Since 1 April 2002, Australia has had a ‘grace period’. This means that if the Inventor has disclosed the invention within the 12 months prior to filing the Complete Application, then a valid Patent may still be obtainable.