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What is a patent?

A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. If a patent application is granted, it gives the owner the ability to take a legal action under civil law to try to stop others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission. This may involve suing the alleged infringer through the courts, which is costly and time consuming because it involves expert legal advice. The patent owner needs to be able to pay for this civil legal action and advice themselves, although they may get some costs back if they win their case.

Please refer to our guidance on resolving patent disputes PDF document(631Kb) for more information.

Your invention must:

  • be new
  • have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject
  • be capable of being made or used in some kind of industry
  • not be:

    a scientific or mathematical discovery, theory or method

    a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work

    a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business

    the presentation of information, or some computer programs

    an animal or plant variety

    a method of medical treatment or diagnosis

    against public policy or morality.

If your invention meets these requirements, you may want to consider applying for a patent.

If you have a granted patent, you must pay a renewal fee to renew it every year after the 5th year for up to 20 years protection.