FAQs: Patents

What can be patented?

You can apply for patent protection for a range of inventions. These include traditional inventions such as appliances, mechanical devices and so on.  You may also protect such items as computer-related inventions, business methods and micro-organisms and other biological materials.

What cannot be patented?

You cannot patent human beings or the biological process for their generation, artistic creations, mathematical models, plans, schemes or other purely mental processes.

Can I get a patent for my invention?

To be eligible for patent protection your invention must be novel, that is it must be new when compared with the prior art and not been publicly disclosed in any form, anywhere in the world before the earliest priority date (date at which the application is first filed) and finally must involve an inventive step.  An inventive step means that the invention is not an obvious thing to do for someone with knowledge and experience in the technological field of the invention.  Provided your invention meets these requirements you should be able to get a patent granted. 

How can I check to see if my idea is new?

 Typically inventors believe that their idea is new because they haven’t seen the product on the market.  Unfortunately every year a large number of patents are filed around the world which never progress to a commercially viable product.  Patent databases can contain a number of patents for inventions which are never marketed.  Therefore in order to determine if your invention is new a patent database search should be completed by a patent searching professional.  However as a first step, you can complete a simple keyword search for your invention on either the US Patent database or the European patent database.  For more information please contact us.

How long does it take to get a patent granted?

The process of granting a standard patent usually takes up to 5 years.

What if my patent is novel but may fall fowl of the inventive step requirement?

You may be able to file an innovation patent rather than a standard patent.  The innovation patent requires an innovative step rather than an inventive step.  The innovation patent has been designed to protect an incremental advance on existing technology.

If you have a patent in Australia, can a product be made elsewhere e.g. in China by someone and sold in Australia?

Patents are jurisdictional and therefore you can enforce your patent in whichever countries you have filed a patent.  If a product is manufactured in China without your permission and that person brings the product into Australia then you may take action against the person importing into Australia without your permission.

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