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Patents 101: A Guide for Inventors.

  • 29 November 2023
  • Studio Legal

Written by Eliza Jane Saunders, Special Counsel & TM/Patent Attorney and Principal, Jennifer Tutty.

In the world of intellectual property rights, copyright and trademarks often take the spotlight, while patents linger relatively unknown. Yet, patents are the silent guardians of innovation. In this blog, we introduce you to patents, the fundamental backbone of invention protection.

What is a Patent?

A patent is an intellectual property right obtained by filing and being a granted a patent, for your new product or process.

What Type of New Products and Processes Can I Obtain a Patent for?

A patent protects inventions in all fields of technology, from a new widget to a new medicine to a new computer implemented process.  The new product or process must be new, not obvious and useful.

What Does a Patent Protect?

A patent protects the embodiment of your new idea.  Until your idea has been reduced to practice and you are able to describe within a patent specification, how it works, what it is made of, provide examples of embodiments etc, then your idea is “confidential information” or a “trade secret” and should be protected as such.

How Do I Protect the “Confidential Information” or a “Trade Secret” Relating To My New Product or Process?

Quite simply, and imperatively, you must keep your new product or process a secret.  If you need to disclose your new product or process, for example so that you can develop it, get it manufactured or disclose it to employees, then you must do so on a confidential basis. 

This involves having a clear Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in place with whoever you must disclose the information to, for a limited “Permitted Purpose”.

How Do I Obtain a Patent in Australia?

Each country has its own patent registration system.

In Australia, patents are obtained by filing with the Australian Patent Office (IP Australia) a patent specification.  A patent specification describes in sufficient detail how your invention works and clearly defines in claims at the end of the patent specification the inventive concept / monopoly of your invention. 

The most valuable part of the specification are these claims (assuming the rest of the specification is in conformity) as they accurately define what your invention is and the extent of your monopoly.  

There is a fine balance to be obtained in drafting the claims. If it is too broad your claim will be more likely to be found invalid as covering other products or processes invented before you. Similarly, if it is too narrow it may not sufficiently cover other products perceived to be infringing your invention. 

Engage a Patent Attorney!

The task of an expert patent attorney drafter is absolutely essential in this process, both in making the determination as to what in fact you have invented, how it can be defined (known as the ‘inventive concept’) and how it can be drafted into suitable technical language that defines this sufficiently wide but not too narrow scope of protection. 

Like in all professions, it is important that the patent attorney you engage to draft your patent specification is very experienced in not just drafting patent specifications per se, but in drafting patent specifications in the particular field of technology of your invention. Who you entrust to define your idea in this important document, is a very important decision to be made.

What Is The Value of a Patent?

A granted patent will provide you with:

1. The exclusive right to exploit your invention commercially;

2. The right to assign and licence the patent to third parties; and

3. The enforceable right to stop third parties infringing your patent (which it does by producing a product or process which falls within the scope of your superbly drafted claims)

Importantly, the patent is an intangible asset in the accounting records of your business.  This can be particularly beneficial when looking to sell your business as the patent will increase the total value of the business.   

Furthermore, like a registered trade mark / brand, a registered patent also gives your product and/or business the appeal of authenticity and exclusivity. Certainly, this is an attractive trait to have in business.

Beneficial Alterations:

Finally, the process of obtaining a patent in itself can be a very beneficial process for an inventor.  It will involve detailed discussions and scrutinisation of your invention with your patent attorney in the drafting process. 

This will test you and cause you to perhaps make beneficial alterations. 

Once filed, the patent application goes through the examination phase during which it is further scrutinized by the Australian patent office (or patent offices around the world if you file an international patent), in particular, in light of the prior art (documents published before the filing date of your patent).

Essentially, the whole process can be quite rewarding and of benefit to future endeavours.

How Can Studio Legal Help In This Process?

How that we have registered patent attorney, Eliza Jane Saunders, working with us, Studio Legal can assist you with the patenting process in Australia and put you in touch with trusted legal associates internationally. 

Whether in identifying and determining patentable subject matter of your invention, connecting you with the most suitably expert patent attorney in your field of tech to draft your patent specification and assisting you with the legalities of research and development, regulation, commercialisation and being first to market – we have you covered.

Further Information

If you are looking to apply for a patent or are seeking to know more about the application process generally, please contact us for a complimentary 15 minute consultation through our online form or via email at hello@studiolegal.com.au.

Eliza can also be contacted via email eliza@studiolegal.com.au.

Written by Eliza Jane Saunders and Principal, Jennifer Tutty.

Published 17 October 2023.

Photo by Osman Talha Dikyar on Unsplash

DISCLAIMER

The information in this article is of a general nature. It does not constitute formal legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Please see the full disclaimer in our website terms. Please contact Studio Legal if you are seeking advice about a specific legal matter.