The innovation patent system, unique to Australia, provides an alternative to using the standard patent system in Australia. Innovation patents are granted for the lesser period of 8 years over inventions that satisfy the lower threshold test of innovative step.
An innovation patent is only examined initially for formalities and if everything is in order then grant can occur in one month after filing. However, prior to enforcement, an innovation patent must be examination for substantive reasons and then certified. Importantly, a valid innovation patent provides for the same exclusive rights – and damages and remedies – as a standard patent.
The main benefits of innovation patents stem from them being quick and inexpensive.
Who uses innovation patents?
For many enterprises in Australia, cost and time are great deterrents to using the patent system. Innovation patents offer an alternative. The alternate system allows smaller businesses to protect their inventions and participate in the patent system.
Innovation patents may also be utilsed in industries where the advances in technology are rapid and not suitable for the time involved in seeking standard patent protection. In a similar way, protection can be sought, in any type of industry, for mere minor improvements rather than full blown inventions.
Innovation patents are also actively used by rights holders wanting to efficiently and quickly enforce their exclusive patent rights. Because innovation patents can, firstly, be enforced quickly and, secondly, cannot be opposed by the alleged infringer, they provide an excellent litigation strategy in some instances. This could include, for example, filing a divisional innovation patent out of a parent standard patent application, to allow rapid grant and enforcement of the innovation patent, while continuing to separately prosecute the acceptance of the parent standard patent in the background.
 Patents Act 1990 (Cth) s68
 See Patents Act 1990 (Cth) s18(1A)(b)(ii)
 Patents Act 1990 (Cth) s52(1))
 Patents Act 1990 (Cth) ss79B and 79
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