What is a Patent?

Intellectual Property is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect.

IP can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand, or the application of your idea. Some of the main categories of IP are; trade marks, copyright, patents and trade secrets.

What is a patent?

A patent is a legally enforceable right for a device, substance, method or process. For your application to be successful, your invention must be new, useful and inventive or innovative.

When granted, a patent will give you exclusive commercial rights to your invention (a monopoly) with a standard patent lasting for up to 20 years.

For comprehensive information on Patents head to the IP Australia website here.

Provisional Patent Application

In a nutshell, a provisional patent application is an optional, inexpensive way of signalling that you may file for a standard patent later on.

Here’s a quick overview of provisional patent applications as per IP Australia:

  • Doesn’t offer any patent protection.
  • Costs $110 (min)
  • Establishes your priority date
  • Gives you 12 months to decide if it’s worth patenting your invention

A provisional application acts as a placeholder while you decide whether to continue the patenting process.

It’s very important to remember it doesn’t offer any patent protection to your invention.

If you decide not to pursue full patent protection after 12 months, your application will lapse. This means you won’t be able to claim the provisional application’s priority date.

There are many benefits to having a provisional patent application such as:

  • Have 12 months to decide if it’s worth applying for a patent
  • Have additional time to research and work on your invention
  • Establish a priority date
  • Indicate to competitors you intend to apply for a patent
  • If applying for an international patent later, be able to request an international-type search to give you confidence before applying.

Head to the IP Australia website here for more.

Patent Assertion Entity

Patent assertion entities (PAEs), otherwise know as “patent trolls” are companies that obtain the rights to one or more patents in order to profit by means of licensing or litigation, rather than by producing its own goods or services.

They are an issue for many reasons including;

  • They don’t contribute to fostering innovation. Many patents are obtained by buying companies going into liquidation/bankruptcy & by purchasing from small investors but they usually do not commercialise or manufacture these patents
  • Their business model relies on making money by suing other companies for patent infringement, demanding licensing fees or damages
  • The impact of patent trolls significantly hinders venture capital investment for new startups as the risk of patent litigation can be costly
  • They can be a huge issue blocking rightful creators/inventors from the legal protection that would otherwise be available to them

Patent trolls are especially prevalent in the tech industry (and other innovative industries). Some of the most well known victims of patent trolls are Google, Apple, Samsung, Dell and Amazon. Many companies pay the sums demanded by patent trolls in order to avoid costly litigation.

One of the risks with a legal system built to protect the intellectual property of individuals and businesses is people taking advantage of it for their own financial gain.

So what should you do if you think you’re the victim of a patent troll? First of all seek legal advice. A good lawyer will be able to help you discern whether it’s financially worth the fight and what all of your options are.

At Litton Legal we’re experts in Intellectual Property Law and can assist with any IP matters, including Patents. Check out our webpage for more information here and contact us here.