Applying for a patent

Before you apply for a patent, you need to keep a written record of your invention, to help to prove you are the inventor (laboratory notebooks, manuals, prototypes etc.).

You must keep the invention secret before you apply for a patent. Disclosure to anyone, anywhere, anyhow without the use of a confidentiality agreement will invalidate the patent.

Seek professional advice before making your application.

As with other forms of IP, if the invention has resulted as part of an employee's official duties, then the patent can be owned by the employer.

The patent application process

The patent application process can be very complex.

A lack of knowledge and experience in this area can result in a failed, inappropriate or unenforceable application, or a registered patent that does not adequately protect your whole innovation or its commercial aspects. A qualified patent attorney should be consulted to help navigate any potential problems.

The process of filing a patent application is also demanding, with milestones for lodging the completed application and undergoing examination procedures within strict time frames. A qualified professional has systems in place to make sure these milestones are completed at the appropriate time.

Patent applications are examined by IP Australia and, if accepted, are published. Others then have a limited time (3 months) to oppose the patent.

Read an overview of the typical patent application process in Australia from IP Australia.

Patent application costs

Fees are payable at different stages through the patent process and will vary depending on how you apply for the payment and your chosen payment method.

Costs that you may incur include: application, examination and acceptance fees, annual renewal fees, and international fees. Separate costs may be incurred if parties are involved in patent oppositions and/or ownership disputes.

You may incur additional costs if you are using legal representation.

Visit IP Australia for a full list of statutory fees and methods of payment for Australian patents.

Also consider...

  • Visit IP Australia for information about patents. Topics include: about the application process; how to search for a patent; how to apply for a patent; and how to renew your patent.
  • Visit the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia—a representative body for Australian patent and trademark attorneys. This site provides the latest news and resource information about patent and trademark law in Australia.
  • Use the directory of registered attorneys published by the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board—a group that administers the patent attorney professions in Australia and New Zealand and the trademarks profession in Australia.