Coming up with a brilliant idea is a necessary first step towards success, yet, on its own, it’s not enough. What good is an idea that you can’t put into action? Even if you manage to pull this off, what if others start capitalizing on it even more than you do, completely overshadowing both you and your business. In order to prevent all of this from happening, you need to learn a thing or two about the notion of patent protection. Fortunately, the path from an invention to a patent is not a complex one, so here’s a brief, step-by-step guide that you might just find useful.
1. Does the invention warrant a patent in the first place?
The first thing you need to do in order to determine whether or not your invention needs to be patented, you have to answer three questions. First, you need to know if the invention is of any use to society? Second, is it original and unique enough to be considered a new invention? Third, do you have enough time, determination and resources to patent it? All three of these have to be a resounding yes.
2. Is it patentable, to begin with?
Just because you consider that your invention deserves to be patented, it doesn’t mean that this is something that you actually can do. First, you should do a brief search online to see if others are already using this idea or an idea that is similar to it. Even if you find a similar idea in use somewhere, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to protect your invention. Go to the official government website that deals with patents. For Australian inventors and businesspeople, IP Australia is probably the best resource. Aside from patents, here you can also do research for trademarks and designs.
3. Finding the right patent attorney
The next thing you need to understand is the fact that pulling all of this off on your own is possible, yet, incredibly difficult. This is why the entire process can be facilitated with the help of an IP expert. However, you need to keep in mind the fact that different regions have different pattern laws and that while international patterns are a thing, it’s usually for the best to act regionally. Still, due to the fact that these laws are usually national and not state-based, you can give yourself the freedom to extend your search a bit. For instance, a company from Sydney doesn’t have to narrow down their search to NSW. Finding a reputable Australian patent protection team is more than enough.
4. What is the cost of filing a patent?
In the first section of this post, we talked about having resources to file a patent. This may not seem as much, nonetheless, the sum is far from insignificant. Namely, different patents have different price tags, so, a utility patent (especially the one with a complex invention) can end up costing as much as $15,000. Most often, nevertheless, this is not the case. Other than this initial cost, you also might have to pay the maintenance fee, the professional drawings expense and a patent office expense. The cost of filing a patent differs from region to region, which is why some research beforehand may be advisable.
5. Provisional patent application?
Provided that you’ve taken reliable IP representatives, as we’ve often advised in the past, this issue would have been outsourced. Nonetheless, having your patent approved is a lengthy process, so, what if someone decides to take an advantage of your invention in a meantime. This is what the provisional patent application is there for. The cost of it differs from country to country and the amount goes from $65 for micro units to $260 for large entities. Either way, it’s more than worth the price.
6. Do you need an international application or not?
Lastly, a national protection program may not be enough, which is why you may need to patent your invention internationally. This is the time for you to turn to the institution like Office of International Patent Cooperation (OIPC). Previously, we’ve discussed the resource that you can use in order to search your patent in Australia, doing so internationally takes different tools and platforms. As for the process itself, it’s streamlined and, more or less, similar to the national one. Here, you have three stages, the examination stage, the prosecution stage and the resolution stage.
Only after doing this will you be able to rest assured that you’ve protected your ideas and your intellectual property. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your pattern will be 100 percent safe or that no one will ever try to take advantage of it. What it does mean, however, is that you’ll now gain legal means to defend it, as well as various legal mechanisms to stand behind you in this struggle. While this may not seem like that much, sometimes this thin layer of IP protection can make a difference between a success and failure.