A patent provides the owner with the exclusive right to exploit an invention in Australia in exchange for publicly disclosing the new idea in a patent specification.

Two types of patents are enforceable in Australia:

1. Standard Patents

The life of a standard patent is 20 years. There are three main requirements for an invention to be considered patentable in so far as standard patents are concerned. The invention must be:

  • Novel – an invention is generally considered new or novel if, before the priority date, it has never been disclosed in any form, anywhere in the world;
  • Inventive – an invention is generally considered inventive if it is not considered obvious by those with knowledge in the field of the invention at the priority date;
  • A Manner of Manufacture – inventions must involve a manner of manufacture. For example, inventions that constitute an artistic creation, mathematical model, plan, scheme, non-functional shape or other purely mental process is not patentable; and
  • Industrially Applicable – inventions must be capable of being industrially applied.

Standard patents are examined to ensure that each of these criteria are met.

2. Innovation Patents

Innovation patents are subject to a lower threshold test for patentability in that the invention claimed must be new and “innovative”, as opposed to “inventive”.

Innovation patents proceed directly through to grant, and examination may be requested by the applicant or by a third party at any time throughout the 8-year life of the innovation patent.

An innovation patent is typically recommended for inventions considered below the inventiveness threshold for a standard patent, and which have a short market life expectancy.