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What Kind of Inventions can be Patent Protected?

What Kind of Inventions can be Patent Protected?

Learn about the type of inventions that can be patented and how you can protect your idea.

13th October 2016

Every year thousands of new inventions are created across the globe but only a handful ever become patent protected. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention and gives the owner of the right the ability to decide who can and can’t use use the invention. A patent also gives the inventor the ability to sell or license their right to the invention to another party for commercial benefit.

Obtaining a patent can be a difficult process. There are are two forms of patent protection under the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) which offers inventors protection and the exclusive right to their inventions. The patent forms are distinguished as ‘standard patents’ and ‘innovation patents’ and have notably different duration processes, protection terms and eligibility requirements.

If you have an invention you would like patent protected, LawPath’s expert patent attorneys can help you select the appropriate patent for your invention.

Types of patents

Standard patents

Standard patents are commonly used to for the protection of inventions across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, construction and medicine. They can take up to 5 years to grant and offer protection for a term of 20 years. A standard patent gives the holder the right to seek action against infringement and enforce their exclusive rights.

Innovation patents

Innovation patents are generally quicker and less costly compared to standard patents. They are commonly used for inventions that have a short commercial life in industries such as technology and media. An innovation patent requires a substantive examination to seek action against infringement or enforce to the exclusive right of the holder. They can take up to 1 month grant and offer protection for a term of 8 years.

For more information on the differences between standard and innovation patents, check out our legal guide.

What kind of inventions can be patent protected?

In Australia, patents can be granted for a wide range of inventions including chemical compounds, business methods or everyday utensils. Traditional patents such as materials, textiles and appliances are often used alongside other existing patents such as computer processes or manufacturing methods to create a unique, functioning invention. However other revolutionary patents may include biological inventions such as bacteria and micro-organisms as well as digital and computer processes.

Before applying for a patent, it is important to research whether your invention has already been patented in Australia or another country and examine existing patents that may be similar to your invention.

What cannot be patented?

In Australia, despite the wide range of inventions that can be patented, there are a few categories of inventions that are restricted from being patented, including:

  • Human beings and/or the biological processes for their generation;
  • Artistic creation;
  • Mathematical models; and
  • Plans, schemes or other purely mental processes.

Notably, the Commissioner of Patents reserves the power to prohibit publication of inventions involving military aspects in the interest of the defence force which will prevent the patent from being granted.


If you would like to learn about whether your invention can be patent protected, LawPath’s intellectual property lawyers can provide you with tailored, expert advice.

LawPath has access to highly qualified patent attorneys that can help you apply for a patent. Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or any other legal needs.

Jennifer Wang

Jennifer is a Paralegal, working in our content team, which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With a keen interest in media and IP law, her research focuses on the evolving role of the law to navigate new and emerging information platforms.