Patent FAQs

Patent FAQs

Common Questions about Patents

What is a patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. In other words, a patent is an exclusive right to a product or a process that generally provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. Patents may be obtained for any device, product or process that is new, useful and inventive or innovative satisfying the requirements of the Patents Act 1990 (Cth).

Can a mobile app, software or business method be patented?

Generally speaking, there are no specific exclusions to inventions that are implemented as computer software or mobile phone applications under the Australian Patent law. They can be patentable as long as they meet the requirements for ‘a manner of manufacture’ and they are not mere schemes, abstract ideas or mere information. Business schemes themselves are not patentable unless they involve in new applications of computer technology or other useful physical results which provides ‘an artificially created state of affairs’.

What rights does a patent provide?

A patent owner has the right to use the patented invention for 20 years (standard patent) or 8 years (innovation patent) exclusively in Australia. In other words, the patented invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported, or sold by others in Australia without the patent owner’s consent. The patent owner also give license others to use the invention or sell the right.

How long does it take to get a patent granted?

The period of time from filing a standard patent application to having the patent granted in Australia is anywhere between 2-5 years. For an innovation patent, it is only granted within 1-2 months as the application is only checked against the formality requirements. Visit our Australian Patents page for more information.

Can I still patent my invention if I have already published it?

Public disclosure of an invention before filing a patent application may result in the patent being invalid. So it’s important to keep your invention secret or at least confidential before filing a patent application. However, it may still be possible to patent your invention in Australia if such public disclosure was made in certain circumstances within the grace period of 12 months before filing the application.

Can I obtain a patent and keep my invention secret?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. In most cases, a patent application is published after 18 months of the priority date. Patents are granted with limited exclusive rights, in exchange for a full disclosure of the invention to the general public. This enables competitors to search for alternative solutions and to invent around, which as a result, encourages the development of new technologies and enriches the well-being of society.

How long is the term of a patent?

In Australia, the term of a standard patent is 20 years and 8 years for an innovation patent. The term of pharmaceutical patent can be extended up to 5 years, providing a maxim of 25 years protection.

What does ‘patent pending’ mean?

Patent pending refers to an invention for which a patent application has been lodged but not yet granted. The term is mainly used to alert competitors and the public that the inventor is in process of obtaining protection of an invention.

Will my Australian patent protect me internationally?

There is no such thing as a ‘world patent’ because patents are territorial rights. It means you need to file applications in countries where you are seeking patent protection. If you are looking for protection in a number of countries, a good option is to file an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Visit our International Patents page for more information.

How much does it cost to file a patent application?

The total costs to get a patent granted will vary depending on factors such as the nature of the invention, its complexity, the length of the application and possible objections raised during the examination by IP Australia. As a ball park figure, the total costs may be around $15,000 to $30,000 to get an Australian standard patent, spreading out about 2-5 years. If you are looking for protection outside of Australia, the costs, as a very rough rule of thumb, may multiply with the number of countries.

Do I really need a patent attorney?

Given the complexity of the requirements of patent documents and the degree of legal skills required, particularly in drafting claims, it is highly recommended your patent application is prepared by a registered patent attorney who has the necessary technical qualifications in the field of your invention. Note that all patent applications will be published after a certain period of time from the priority date. An inadequately or poorly prepared patent application may result in rejection. Alternatively, you may be faced with a situation where it is granted but the scope of the patent is so narrow that it has little value or worth, whereas it is fully disclosed to the world.

For more information, call us today on (02) 9233 1411 or send us an online enquiry.

Disclaimer: This page has been prepared to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create a lawyer/attorney- client relationship. Any information viewed or obtained on this site should not be relied upon as a substitute for detailed legal advice.