In recent years, there has been an ongoing discussion to abolish the Australian innovation patent. In fact, the Intellectual Property Law Amendments Bill 2017 included specific plans to slowly phase out the innovation patent. However, when the Bill was introduced into Parliament, the section dealing with the abolishment was removed.
As such, we are happy to report that at least for now, the Australian innovation patent continues on and is a valuable option for inventors and innovative businesses.
What is an Australian Innovation Patent?
In Australia, there are two types of patents; a standard patent and an innovation patent. The inventiveness requirements for an innovation patent are lower than for a standard patent. In exchange for this, the innovation patent has a maximum term of 8 years, instead of 20 years for a standard patent.
As such, an innovation patent is ideal to protect innovations that are difficult to protect with a standard patent. It is also a good option for products with a shorter shelf-life. In fact, Australia introduced the innovation patent system to encourage small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to protect their innovations. The idea was to promote innovation throughout the industry.
You can find more about patents in general here.
Why do I need it?
Filing an innovation patent has several advantages. For example, because an innovation patent is “granted” shortly after filing (without examination), patent owners can legitimately market their products as patented.
Innovation patents are also strategic tools in litigation proceedings. Because the innovation patent has lower inventiveness requirements, innovation patents form very strong rights that are difficult to invalidate. As such, they can usually be crafted broader than a standard patent.
At this stage, New Zealand only has standard patents. However, just recently a discussion has been initiated to introduce a second type of patent similar to the Australian innovation patent.