What is a patent?
A patent is a right of exclusion granted by a government to the inventor of an article, device, substance, process or method which is new, inventive and useful in return for its development and disclosure to the public.
What rights does a patent provided?
Patents provide the inventor with the right to exclude others from exploiting the invention for the life of the patent, which is generally up 20 years from filing.
What can be patented?
Virtually any new and useful advance can be patented, for example mechanical devices, electric circuits, chemical compounds, genetically altered life forms and the application of computer software and algorithms. Business methods and manufacturing process can also be patented, especially if they involve computers and information technology. The advance doesn’t need to be a major breakthrough – a small improvement or variation may be patentable. It is necessary, however, for there to be an inventive step, i.e. the improvement can’t be considered obvious to a skilled worker in the relevant filed.
What can’t be patented?
Generally, items such as plans, schemes, artistic creations and mental process cannot be patented. Since the law determining permissible subject matter for patents is based upon an accumulation of court decisions, what can be successfully patented has changed over the years and varies from country to country.
What are the different types of applications and patents?
The first step in filing a patent application in Australia is often the lodgment of an application, accompanied by a provisional specification, at the Patent Office. The provisional specification describes the invention and (in most cases0 its date of lodgment determines the ‘priority date’, on which date the invention must be new.
Complete application (leading to standard patent)
Within 12 months of lodging the provisional application can be lodged at the Patent Office. Where an invention is in development when a provisional specifications can be lodged in the 12-months period to include additional material. All such provisional specifications can be combined in a single with a series of numbered paragraphs called claim. The claims define the monopoly sought – both the particular embodiment of the invention as described in detail in the specification and variations.
Under the Patents Act 1990 it is possible to file a patent application that claims the same priority date as one previously filed and claims matter disclosed in an earlier application. These divisional in an application have a maximum term of 20 years, common with the parent case, but must be filed prior to sealing of the parent complete application.
The novelty test for an innovation patent, as for a standard patent, includes publication or use anywhere in the world. However a lower innovative step applies. The innovation patent contains a maximum of five claims, has a shorter term (eight years instead of 20) and no extension of term is available. Applications are not subjected to examination, however, for the patent to be relied on infringement proceedings – the patentee must request examination and the patent must be validated.
Patents of addition
An application for a patent of addition may be made for a single improvement in, or modification of, the main invention in an earlier patent. The owner must be the same as the earlier patent or a person authorised by the owner.
Is there a worldwide patent?
No. Patents are obtained on a country-by-country basis, although there are a small number of regional patent arrangements, including one in Europe. The Patent Cooperation Treaty also exists, however this only applies for a short time during the application stage and national patens still ultimately result.
What is the role of a patent attorney?
Patent attorneys provide the expertise required in order to obtain and protect IP rights. This involves managing the processes by which patents, trade marks’ rights are granted, and advising on the issues surrounding their validity and infringement. Patent attorney must have a degree in engineering or since.