Guide to applying

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A guide to applying 

for your patent


All content in this publication is provided under a 

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC 

BY 4.0) licence

, with the exception of:

•  the Commonwealth Coat of Arms

•  IP Australia’s corporate logo

•  photographs of our staff and premises

•  content provided by third parties – including 

photographs, logos, drawings and written 

descriptions of patents and designs.

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Permission may need to be obtained from third parties 

to re-use their material.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2014


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Licensed from the Commonwealth of Australia under 

a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International 


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This application guide should not be regarded as 

an authoritative statement on the relevant law and 

procedure. Whilst we make every effort to ensure the 

information presented is accurate and up to date, you 

should check with us before relying on the information. 

Although our staff cannot give you advice about your 

particular circumstances, we can answer general 

questions about the Australian patent system. We 

recommend that you seek professional assistance 

before applying for a patent.

A guide to applying for your patent 



First, the basics 


Decision 1: Can I patent my invention? 


Decision 2: Should I patent my invention? 


Decision 3: What type of patent? 


Decision 4: What type of application? 


Flow chart of an application 


How to file a provisional patent application


How to file a complete patent application


Patenting overseas 


Costs 22

Contact us 


Glossary of terms


A guide to applying for your patent 





















First, the basics



What is a patent?


A patent is an IP right granted for new technology you have invented. It is legally enforceable and 

gives you the exclusive right to commercially exploit your invention in Australia for the term of the 

patent. You can also obtain patent protection overseas. 


Seek professional advice


Patenting and commercialising an invention can be costly, time-consuming and requires a range of 

skills you may not currently have. Furthermore, as a first time applicant, you probably don’t know 

what you don’t know. 

We strongly recommend you seek advice from a patent attorney. Most people would not purchase 

a home without professional assistance, and yet obtaining a patent is more complex. If you get 

it wrong from the outset, it can be impossible to correct an error, resulting in a lost opportunity to 

protect your invention. 


Keep your invention a secret


Your invention should be kept secret until you have applied for patent protection. If you 

demonstrate, sell or discuss your invention in public before you apply, you may lose the 

opportunity to patent it. 

You can still talk to your employees, business partners or advisers about your invention, but 

make it clear that the information is to be kept confidential. You should use written confidentiality 

agreements, particularly when negotiating with potential business partners. 


Priority date - an important concept


The date you first file a patent application for your invention establishes what is known as a priority 

date. Potential competitors who file an application at a later date for the same invention will not be 

entitled to patent it due to your earlier priority date. 


Don’t replicate something already patented


You don’t want to apply for a patent for an invention that isn’t new. Before investing large amounts 

of time and money, search patent databases, sales brochures and the internet. This will help you 

determine if your invention has already been thought of by someone else. 

A guide to applying for your patent 


Searching the Australian patent databases


You can search Australian patent documents for free via our website using our AusPat search   

system. Data from AusPat dates back to 1904. 

AusPat is the search system for Australian patent data and provides a single point of enquiry for 

information on Australian patents. AusPat provides quick, structured or advanced search options to 

search several bibliographic fields including: 

•  Document number 

•  International Patent Classification mark 

•  Applicant/Inventor name 

•  Title 


Searching patents worldwide


Our website provides links to a range of patent databases, including those of the major overseas IP 

offices. Most of these databases are free to search, but using them effectively is a specialised skill. 

You may want to contact a patent attorney or professional searcher to search for you. 


What next?


Now you know the basics, there are some important decisions ahead. They are: 

•  Decision 1: Can I patent my invention? 

•  Decision 2: Should I patent my invention? 

•  Decision 3: What type of patent? 

•  Decision 4: What type of application? 

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