What is a Patent?

  • A Patent is a registration that gives legal protection to inventions and innovations eg. New type of quick drying paint, or new ingredient to make gold more pliable or new tools to use in agriculture.
  • An invention must be NEW (there is a grace period of up to year for filing a patent in Australia, but this cannot be used in many other countries e.g. Europe, New Zealand)
  • You MUST GET proper legal advice before telling anyone of the idea or you might lose the right to register a patent.
  • Talk to a patent attorney first! • eg. The inventor of the plugboard, Kambrook, lost millions of dollars in revenues because they did not register their invention as a patent, meaning that anyone could commercialise it (and many have done so, to Kambrook’s cost.
  • Why should I Register My Invention As A Patent?

    • It protects you from others lodging a patent for your invention and seeking damages and an injunction against you (provided you file your patent first before someone else files for your invention) ***POTENTIAL SAVINGS of at least $100 000 in legal fees (even if you are the true inventor of the invention, once someone else has it patented they can sue you).
    • It is a massive business risk not to have a patent.
    • This gives you property that has value and can be sold or licensed. It is a lot harder to sell or license know-how or trade secrets. The guy who invented the plug board did not patent his idea (count how many you have at home …Every house has a plug board at their TV for TV, Foxtel, dvd etc to plug into the same electric socket).
    • The plug board is a billion dollar industry. But because he did not have it patented, others have cashed in and he has got no royalties from their sales. In the years since that invention, no one has come up with anything better, so it is a false assumption to say that only the most recent technology is financially worthwhile. • You can use a patent to prevent your competitors from using your technology without your permission.

    Is there only one type of patent?

    • In Australia, there are two type of patents – standard and innovation patents.
    • Standard patents protect inventions.
    • Innovation patents protect innovations (lesser inventions)
    • A standard patent is valid for up to 20 years.
    • An innovation patent is valid for up to 8 years.
    • New Zealand only has one type of patent, similar to the Australian standard patent.
    • All countries have standard patents. Some countries have utility model patents as well, which are similar to the Australian Innovation Patent.

    Does my development have to be a massive break-through to be patented?

    • No. Most inventions are incremental improvements over what has gone before and are patentable.
    • Even if your development is not truly an invention, it may still qualify as an innovation and still be protectable as an innovation patent.

    First to market is the most important thing, right?

    • If a business is first to market but not first to invent and patent then they could be effectively working for the person who has the technology patented.
    • Once a patent is granted, it becomes enforceable and damages can be claimed back to when it was first published (can be years earlier).
    • If someone else has been marketing and selling a development covered by a patent they may be stopped from operating in that market and ordered to pay damages or account for their profits and pay the owner of the patent for these.
    • First to invent is more important than first to market or at least as important.

    My development is likely to be out of date in a few years. Is a patent is useless in these circumstances?

    • An innovation patent might be used to gain quick and relatively inexpensive protection for your development in Australia.
    • Expedited examination on a standard patent in Australia is also available, meaning that an invention could become a granted patent within a year of filing a patent application.
    • It is often not predictable what is going to remain current and valid – who thought that SMS messages would last as long as they have as a communication medium.
    • If your competitor lodges a patent covering your technology, you could get locked out of the market and sued for damages or an account of profits.

    PCT National Phase entries:

    We are happy to accept PCT National Phase entry applications from foreign associates for both New Zealand and Australia. We offer very competitive rates for the prosecution of National Phase applications up to grant and beyond.

    Paris convention and non-convention patent applications:

    We offer very competitive rates for handling Paris convention and non-convention applications in Australia and New Zealand. We also prepare and file provisional patent applications on behalf of clients.

    Patent searching:

    We perform patent searches and advise on patentability and freedom to operate issues. In New Zealand, for New Zealand clients, there is sometimes 50% funding available for Freedom to Operate Searches.