IP Australia is the Australian Government agency that administers intellectual property (IP) rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder's rights.
"A trade mark is a right that is granted for a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture and/or aspect of packaging. A registered trade mark is legally enforceable and gives you exclusive rights to commercially use, licence or sell it for the goods and services that it is registered under."
A common misconception is that the act of incorporating or registering a business or company name in and of itself grants you proprietary rights. Whilst it is true that other entities cannot register the exact same company name, they can register similar names which could cause confusion. Additionally, trading names (esp. abbreviations), brand and product names and similar marketing components are not protected by the act of company name registration.
"Registering a business, company or domain name does not give you any proprietary rights. Only a trade mark can provide that kind of protection.
If you register a business, company or domain name, you do not automatically have the right to use that name as a trade mark.
The same word(s) may be registered by different people as a business name in other states and territories. However, if you have a registered trade mark, you can take legal action for infringing your trade mark if the business name owner uses it for goods or services like those covered by your trade mark registration."
Only the registration of a trade mark grants you exclusive use of that mark (word, name, logo &tc) throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
In addition to applying for a trade mark in the Australian territory for your business name, brand names and trading names (or other IP assets capable of being trademarked), the granting of a trademark by IP Australia can also then be extended to other countries by applying via one of the international agreements in place which often result in an easier process to obtain rights in other countries. Conversely, if you already have trademarks in place in other territories, you may find it as easy or easier to extend those rights to Australia if there is an appropriate international agreement covering both the origin country and Australia.
IP Australia also grants and administers patents for the Commonwealth of Australia.
"A patent is a right granted for a device, substance, method or process that you have invented that is new, inventive and useful when compared with what is already known."
Patents can be granted in Australia not only for traditional inventions such as appliances and mechanical devices but also for computer-related inventions, business methods & processes, biological inventions, micro-organisms and other biological materials (but not human beings or the biological processes for their creation).
Term of the patent from the date of application
- An Australian standard patent lasts for up to 20 years.
- An innovation patent only lasts for up to 8 years.
- Pharmaceutical patents can last up to 25 years.
You will be required to pay annual maintenance fees on your patent/patent application otherwise it will lapse and you will not be able to enforce your patent.
Applying for patents can be a time-consuming, costly and complex process. Initial searches can easily be done on the IP Australia AusPat site but professional advice is advised for initiating and completing the application process. There are a large number of Patent Attorneys providing this service in Australia.
IP Australia - IP Australia administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, registered designs and plant breeder's rights in Australia