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How Long Does a Patent Last in Australia?

Obtaining a patent is one of the best things inventors can do to protect valuable intellectual property. Any new product, process or invention has the potential to bring great commercial benefits. For that reason, Australia provides a robust patent framework that entitles individuals and companies to the exclusive use of their inventions. Australian patents can last up to 20 years. Pharmaceutical patents may be eligible for an extension in term to a maximum of 25 years. That means managing your patent portfolio and monitoring renewal and expiry dates is critical to maintaining your competitive advantage.

Types of Australian Patents

Australia’s patent law provides protection for new and inventive intellectual property, including products, processes and inventions. An Australian patent grants the owner the exclusive right to control the invention for long periods of time. There are three main types of patents in Australia:

  • Provisional patents. Filing a provisional patent is an affordable way of establishing a priority date for your invention. You must file a complete patent application within 12 months of filing a provisional patent to maintain your priority date.
  • Standard patents. The most common type of patent in Australia, standard patents offer long-term protection for innovative and inventive products.
  • Innovation patents. Innovation patents are in the process of being phased out by IP Australia and can no longer be obtained for new inventions. Innovation patents were simpler to obtain and popular in fast-moving industries such as information technology.

How Long Do Patents Last?

In Australia, standard patents last up to 20 years from the date you filed your application. Patents for pharmaceuticals can last up to 25 years. This period includes the time taken by IP Australia to examine and accept your patent. Depending on the type of patent, the innovation involved and prior art identified during examination, this process can take between 6 months and several years. Yearly renewal fees must be paid to IP Australia to keep a patent or patent application pending. The patent or application ceases or lapses if the renewal fees aren’t paid.

Although IP Australia is no longer accepting new innovation patent applications, existing innovation patents are still being enforced. Innovation patents last up to 8 years from the date of filing. Any innovation patents filed on or before August 25th 2021 will continue to be effective until their expiry.

How Long Do Patents Last Internationally?

The inventors of new and innovative products will often seek protection for their ideas in international jurisdictions. While there is no such thing as an “international patent,” most countries provide a patent system to protect intellectual property. Just as with Australian patents, patents in most international jurisdictions entitle the inventor to commercially exploit their products over the long-term. Unfortunately for inventors, the exact details of patent legislation varies between countries, meaning each patent will need to be managed carefully to ensure it does not expire or lapse.

As a general rule of thumb, patents lodged in international countries will remain valid for 20 years, provided any relevant renewal fees are paid.

What Happens After a Patent Expires?

Patents are designed to provide protection for the intellectual property developed by inventors and companies. Allowing the inventor of a new product to obtain a monopoly over their work encourages the development of new and improved technologies. But, once a patent has expired, the protection ends and the invention enters the public domain. That means anyone will be free to commercially exploit your product or process – such as by manufacturing and selling the invention.

Find Out More About Australian Patents with Kings Patent & Trade Marks Attorneys Today!

Navigating Australia’s patent system can be a challenge. While our legislation provides robust protection for intellectual property and innovative products, it’s important to ensure your obligations as an inventor are met. Kings Patent & Trade Marks Attorneys are independent experts based in Brisbane, and our team provides a range of services to help protect your intellectual property and inventions. Our services are available to both individuals and corporate clients. We assist with everything from drafting patent applications to enforcing rights and managing your portfolio of Australian and international patents. Contact us today and book a confidential consultation to find out more about the Australian patent process.

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