HOW LONG DOES MY PATENT LAST?

The Standard Patent is the main way you can protect significant new developments.  It gives you a 20-year monopoly.

WHEN SHOULD I PATENT MY AUSTRALIAN INVENTION?

The usual first step towards patent protection is filing a provisional patent application. This has one main purpose: to establish a priority date for your invention. This date is vital, because patenting of a particular invention is on a first come first served basis.

In Australia (and most countries) the inventor with the earliest priority date is generally entitled to patent protection. The provisional application also frees you to disclose your invention publicly, and begin exploiting it commercially. The application includes a specification placing on record what the invention is, and lasts for 12 months only.

Within 12 months of the provisional application, a complete patent application is made, with a specification now including claims setting out the monopoly sought. If extra provisional applications have been made, covering aspects of the original invention, it may be appropriate to combine them in a single complete application.

The patenting process can actually start with a complete application, with no provisional application at all, but this is unusual for locally developed inventions.

IF I PATENT WILL THE WORLD KNOW ABOUT MY INVENTION?

Details of the invention are not automatically published after you submit a provisional application, and you can continue development in secret if you wish for the following 12 months. You can file extra provisional applications for any improvements you make.

Once a complete application has been submitted, the Patent Office will publish this information – thus revealing your invention at 18 months after the priority date. Later, it will examine the application for patentability.

WHAT IF THERE ARE OBJECTIONS TO MY PATENT?

If any objections are made, they must be overcome before the application can be accepted. Other people then have a chance to oppose the grant of your patent, and the Patent Office decides such disputes. If there is no opposition (or if you defeat any opposition raised) your Standard Patent will be granted.

HOW LONG DOES THE PATENTING PROCESS TAKE?

The process from priority date to a granted Standard Patent can vary upwards from three years.

HOW MANY INVENTIONS DOES MY PATENT COVER?

Your complete application may cover several inventions, but the granted patent can cover only one. The others can be protected by filing divisional applications, based on the main one. In Australia, patents resulting from divisional applications will share the same priority date as the main application, and can be filed up to three months after its acceptance.

WHAT REGIONS ARE COVERED BY A STANDARD PATENT?

Your standard patent provides a monopoly in Australia only. To patent in other countries, you need to apply in each country of interest. Your Australian priority date will be recognised in most of them, provided you apply within 12 months of it.

More information is available: Getting a Standard Patent in Australia.

NOTE: For individual cases, you should consult Watermark for specific advice. This is a simplified account; many options and variations have been omitted.