Overview of Australian Innovation Patents

In a recent article on the Australian innovation patent system, our friends at Shelston IP discussed how Dyson is using the system to protect against infringers of its latest technology, the Air MultiplierTM bladeless fan.

Dyson, also known for its vacuum and AirbladeTM hand dryer, has invested heavily in IP and relies strongly on its fan-related innovation patents to take action against infringers.  

So what is the Australian innovation patent?

The Australian innovation patent was introduced in 2001 to provide protection for inventions that do not meet the usual requirements for standard patents. The innovation patent requires an “innovative step” as opposed to an “inventive step.” Unlike an inventive step, the innovative step may be valid even if it is obvious, so long as it is novel over the prior art and makes a “substantial contribution to the working of the invention.”

Innovation patents offer several benefits:

  1. They’re granted quickly, typically within a matter of months (attractive for inventions with a short market life or for applicants looking to quickly stop others from copying the invention).
  2. Obtaining an innovation patent requires a lower inventive threshold than a standard patent, but offers the same level of protection in preventing copies of the invention.
  3. It is more cost-effective than a typical patent application.

There are some limitations, though. The most notable is that the term of the innovation patent is only eight years (compared with a standard patent’s 20-year term). Also, the application cannot relate to plants or animals, biological processes for their generation, or humans.

An innovation application can be filed as a stand-alone application, as a Paris Convention application or as a divisional application from a national phase or Convention application. The innovation patent is granted quickly, but without examination; so you must request examination to fully enforce your rights.

Read more about innovation patents on the IP Australia website.


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