Patents and Standards: Applying for patents

Obtaining a patent

Statens Arkiver - Danish State Archives - Dykkerdragt 1838 Illustration II - CCLicence Attribution 2.0 Generic, Image source: flickr To obtain a valid patent an invention has to be new (NOVEL), not be obvious and must be useful (UTILITY). 

Individuals or companies may wish to apply for a patent when:

  • A new product or process has been invented or developed from which they wish to profit
  • An invention is new, improved or inventive and is a useful device (ie tools, utensils, machinery and equipment) or method
  • The invention involves the construction or manufacture of a substance, article, or apparatus; or, an industrial type of process

During the time a patent is being sought by an inventor, partial protection is offered while a patent is being applied for, as indicated by the phrase 'patent pending' or 'pat. pending'

For your own inventions

  • Speak with a company legal officer, for example, UniSA Legal
  • Contact UniSA Ventures, the commercialisation arm of UniSA
  • Apply to the patent office in your capital city

What is not patentable?

  • Artistic creations, mathematical methods, some schemes of business or other purely mental acts, mere discoveries and ideas
  • Any invention that has been disclosed publicly before a valid patent is obtained
  • Any invention already patented by someone else

Un-patentable matter

Examples of un-patentable matter:

  • Mere discoveries and ideas (rather than a method or apparatus for putting that discovery or idea into practice)
  • Mere arrangement of printed material on sheets 
  • Computer programmes per se
  • Mathematical formulae
  • Business systems, methods of bookkeeping - although one of the biggest changes in the patent scene is the subject of business method patents. Automated processes are now being patented
  • Human beings and the biological processes etc. Although GM and bioengineering developments are causing some conflicts