Applying For a Patent
The process of applying for all types of patent can commence with a provisional patent application, which must be filed before the invention is disclosed to any member of the public. Any improvement to the invention subsequently made can be the subject of a further provisional application, which must also be filed before the improvement is disclosed to any member of the public. Within 12 months of filing the first provisional application, a complete patent application must be lodged. Also at that time it is usually necessary / advisable to apply for foreign patent protection, if desired.
Alternatively, while less often recommended one can file a complete application at the outset, without filing any provisional application. However, it is recommended that a provisional application is lodged in the first instance, since in most cases the invention is in its early stages and is often not yet fully developed nor fully understood.
Any patent application is accompanied by a patent specification. The patent specification must describe the invention in sufficient detail to enable a skilled person to make the invention work. The best method of performing the invention known to the inventor must also be disclosed. In the case of a complete application, the patent specification ends with a number of claims that define the invention, and determine the scope of monopoly that is granted to the patentee. Care must be exercised in drafting any patent specification, as there are numerous pitfalls for the unwary, that at worst can lead to invalidity of the patent.
Standard Patent (20-Year Protection): The Procedure
1. Standard Patent Application
2. Examination of the Application
3. Acceptance and Grant
4. Annual Renewal Fees
Innovation Patent (8 year protection): The Procedure
The innovation patent system is designed to provide for the fast grant of a patent for inventions (innovations) with a lower level of inventive step than the level required for a standard patent. Whilst legally speaking, an innovation patent is granted for an innovation rather than an invention, for the purposes of this discussion, the term "invention" will be used.
1. Innovation Patent Application
2. Examination and Grant of the Innovation Patent
3. Certification and Enforcement
After the innovation patent has been certified, it is possible for third parties to oppose the grant of the innovation patent.
4. Annual Renewal Fees
With the advent of the innovation patent, no further applications for grant of a petty patent are being accepted by the Patent Office.