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Is your innovation new?

The ability to fully exploit the potential of your new idea will depend on the intellectual property (IP) underpinning the innovation (i.e. are you the first to conceptualise this new innovation?). A common starting point is to find out if anyone else has already created the idea and protected it through IP registration, like patents, designs and trademark registrations.

You can search free online databases containing millions of registered IP records (e.g. patent databases, design and trademark registers). Start with Australian databases, then progress through various international databases in countries where you think your innovation would be successful.

If your search reveals that someone else has already created the innovation and has protected it, this may be the end for your idea, unless you can cleverly differentiate or distinguish your innovation from the one you have found. Beware: If you press ahead with the innovation and someone else has already protected it through IP registration, you carry the real risk of infringing another's IP rights. This carries financial and civil penalties. Seeking professional advice from an IP attorney is critical at this point.

If you find no prior innovation, then you have a good chance of taking your innovation further by seeking formal registration.

Keeping records

To support your application, it will be useful to clearly prove ownership and/or commercialisation rights of the IP, such as laboratory notes/working papers and employment contracts that show when and how the IP was developed, or an assignment agreement, licensing agreement etc.