The region’s METS sector is known for its great innovation to improve productivity and sustainability. In fact, many local businesses have registered patents to protect their ideas.

The Australian Patent Office is currently receiving 30,000 standard patent applications each year. There have been METS sector related patents registered for mining excavator buckets, a mining vehicle monitoring and control system, rock drills and rock bolts to name but a few.

So what is a patent and do you need one?

A patent gives you a monopoly over the invention, with the right to stop anyone else making or selling it within the country or countries that you obtain the patent in.

This is perhaps easiest understood by talking about pharmaceutical medicines. It’s now common place to be asked at the chemist counter if you are happy to be supplied with the generic brand. When this happens, this means, that the original pharmaceutical company which spent millions developing, testing and releasing the drug to market is no longer protected by the exclusive monopoly period for their patent. So now, their competitors can produce the same medicine based on the original patent.

Two of the biggest mistakes seen in patent law are disclosing details of the patent too early and waiting too long before you register a patent, and your competitor gets in with something similar beforehand.

Until you have filed the patent, you need to keep the invention strictly confidential. There are scores of legal cases where the issue of ownership around intellectual property have been contested. So it is important to take some steps to protect you and your invention:

  • Confidentiality deeds - If you are going to get someone to assist with the invention (build, design, advise, test, etc), you need a suitable confidentiality deed with them. Without it, you may lose the ability to obtain a patent;
  • Conduct searches - Conduct comprehensive patent searches to determine if the patent is new and inventive in comparison to what has come before it;
  • Cost benefit analysis - Is the patent worth it? Or can you adequately protect it in some other way?
  • Legal ownership - Consider what entity will hold the patent, and whether that will be the same one that makes/sells the product;
  • Trademark - Look at the brand you will use and protecting that with a trade mark;
  • Consider all options - Weigh up your patent options: standard vs innovative; filing in Australia or also overseas?

Patents may seem overwhelming, but in the long run they protect what is rightfully yours.

Kane Williams

[email protected]

07 4968 5462

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