Which PCT International Search Authority (ISA) should I use?


The International Search Report (“ISR”) is a fundamental part of the PCT procedure. Once a PCT application is filed, an International Search Authority (ISA) performs a search of the prior art, and provides the results to the applicant in the form of an ISR. The applicant can use the ISR to gain an insight into what prior art they might encounter during examination after national phase entry.

An ISA is, in effect, a patent office with its PCT hat on. Most ISA searchers and examiners are simply examiners at their local patent office, with special training in the special requirements of the PCT (note: the USPTO outsources some of its PCT International Searches to private search companies).

There are presently 15 ISAs. Every Receiving Office allows applicants access to at least one ISA. Some countries allow PCT applicants to choose from more than one ISA.

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Overview of Australian Innovation Patents

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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.

Friday Foreign Filing Roundup

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Hi everyone! Before you take off on your Labor Day weekend, have a look at the foreign filing/patenting news for the last week of August:

  • More on the America Invents Act: Can any patent applicant qualify as “small entity“?
  • Australia Reforms Its Patents Act 1990 – Patent Docs writes of the implications expected from the Raising the Bar Act, which was signed this past April.
  • A report released by the Association of University Technology Managers shows just how lucrative licensing agreements can be for university inventions.
  • Cambodian economic leaders plan to enhance IP laws over the next few years with the support of WIPO.
  • The USPTO will hold two public informational events next week highlighting the AIA’s rules set to take effect on September 16th.

We love hearing your feedback and welcome any comments you have on the above topics. Have a great weekend and if you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter @inoviaIP!