How to patent an idea or invention
Effective Australian and international patent protection on time and within budget starts here
Without effective patent protection, others may be allowed to copy your new idea or invention.
There are many options for applying for patent protection. Generally speaking, the process starts with an initial patent application, and then further patent applications are filed about 12 months later. Often the initial patent application is an Australian provisional patent application. The further patent applications may include a standard patent application, an innovation patent application and/or an international patent application.
Typically the further patent applications are then examined. Examination involves a Patent Examiner (government official) reviewing the patent specification and considering whether the invention as defined in the patent claims qualifies for protection. Routinely, the Examiner will have objections, and correspondence to persuade the Examiner will follow. The correspondence will often include both argument and amendments to the patent claims.
Once the Examiner has been persuaded, the application will be ‘accepted’. In the normal course of events, a patent is granted on the application within a few months of acceptance. Prior to grant, others (e.g. your competitors) have the opportunity to oppose the grant of patent. Only a small proportion of patent applications face formal opposition.
The application process is the same to patent a product and to patent a process.
Some examples on how to patent an idea:
- The Australian patent application process
- Protecting your invention internationally
- The innovation patent application process
Further reading: How to Patent Your Invention in Australia
Would you like to know more about how to patent your idea or invention? Please contact us.
Why does it take so long?
As in How to patent in Australia and How to patent internationally, it can take years to get a patent. It takes this long due to a combination of deliberate strategies to delay the process and routine Patent Office delays. Delaying has significant advantages including deferring costs (why pay for examination now when you could pay for it in a few years’ time?) and preserving the flexibility to amend the definitions of coverage that goes with a pending patent application (and is lost when a patent is granted).
The delay doesn’t have to slow you down and your idea or invention is protected in the meantime. Once your first patent application is filed, making, using and selling (etc) your idea or invention will not affect your patent rights. If an infringing product appears in the market before your patent is granted, you can accelerate the process to obtain an enforceable patent (typically within a matter of months) and then take action based on the enforceable patent.
Keep it secret
Generally speaking, the idea or invention must be kept secret and not sold or commercially used until you apply for a patent.
Australia, the US, Canada and some other countries have 12 month grace periods. So, if your idea or invention was secret up until less than 12 months ago, you may be able to obtain patent rights by acting quickly.
Registering a patent
‘Patent registration’ is often used as a synonym for ‘granted patent’. Once a patent has been granted, the grant is automatically officially recorded with the Patent Office. There is no facility or need to register a patent once it is granted.