If you've developed a new device, substance, method, or process, you can apply for a patent to give you rights over your invention in Australia. There are 2 types of patents, standard and innovation.

The standard patent applies to an invention that is new, useful, and involves an inventive step. It'll need to be examined by IP Australia and will have to satisfy the relevant requirements of the Patents Act 1990.

The standard patent:

  • is legally enforceable
  • lasts up to 20 years (25 years for pharmaceutical substances)
  • usually takes up to 5 years to be granted.

The innovation patent applies to an invention that is new, useful, and involves an innovative step. It doesn't undergo an examination unless you or a third party request it. The process of granting the patent is not as stringent as for a standard patent.

The innovation patent:

  • is not legally enforceable unless it has been examined and certified by IP Australia
  • lasts up to 8 years
  • takes about 1 month to be granted, or at least 6 months if you request an examination.

If you want to obtain protection in other countries, you can file separate patents in each country, or file a Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) which will give you more time to decide whether you want to pursue patent protection, and in which countries.

What you'll need

How to apply

  1. Check the eligibility requirements.
  2. Search on the AusPat website and international sites to ensure you are not duplicating work that's already been done. If you need specific help and advice, contact an Intellectual Property (IP) professional.
  3. Gather your specification, claims, abstract and drawings, and:

IP Australia
PO Box 200
Woden NSW 2606

Who's eligible?

  • You must be able to prove you're the actual inventor, or that you have entitlement from the actual inventor(s).
  • You can be an individual, a company or an organisation, but not a firm or partnership.

Things to keep in mind...

  • If you don't want your home address published online, provide a post office box or other valid address within Australia.
  • The key purpose of the patent system is to publish knowledge and promote progress.
  • Don't demonstrate, sell or discuss your invention before you apply for a patent. If you want to talk about it with employees or business partners, have them sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • Consider filing a provisional application first which gives you 12 months to think about the commercial merits of your invention, and whether it is worth pursuing patent protection.
  • If your application is for a standard patent, you must request examination within 5 years of your filing date.
  • Your patent will only be legally enforceable once you've submitted your application and gone through the examination process.
  • You'll need to pay annual maintenance fees on your patent/patent application, or it will lapse.
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