How to apply for a patent

Any person may make an application for a patent; the right to a patent belongs to the inventor or the inventors' successor in title. However, if an employee makes an invention in the course of his/her employment the right to the patent may belong to the employer. An application may be filed by joint applicants.

A patent application consists of:

  • A request for the grant of a patent. (Completing the application Form No.1 is sufficient to comply with this requirement).
  • A specification containing a description of the invention, one or more claims  defining the matter for which protection is sought and any drawings needed for the disclosure.
  • An abstractcontaining a summary of the matter contained in the specification.
  • The prescribed filing fee must be paid within one month from the date of filing.
  • Patent Application form
  • Guide to completing the Patent Application Form

Example of a completed Patent Application Form(0.13 MB, Adobe PDF)

For applicants who wish to file a patent application directly with the Patents Office the Patent Application Guide   provides guidance on how to complete a patent application, including how to draft specifications, claims, drawings and abstracts.

Patent law and practice, and the drafting of the specification, describing an invention, are complex matters, for which the help of a patent agent is very advisable, unless the applicant has had specialised training in this field. 

The Patents Office cannot advise applicants as to choice of agent.  A list of registered patent agents is available here.

Where a patent agent is appointed by an applicant, all enquiries should be directed to that agent and all official communications from the Patents Office are with the appointed agent.

Statement of Inventorship

A patent application must be accompanied by a statement of inventorship if:

  • you’re not the inventor
  • there’s more than one inventor and they’re not listed as applicants
  • you’re applying on behalf of a company

The statement provides the Patents Office with more information about who the inventor is and why the inventor has the right to apply for the patent. A statement of inventorship may be made by completing the relevant section of the application form (Form No 1.)  Alternatively, a statement of inventorship may be made on Form No 2. and submitted separately.

Divisional patent application

Applications disclosing more than one invention are said to lack "unity of invention".  Where this happens, the applicant must remove all the subject matter that does not relate to the first invention. However, such subject matter may be "divided out" into new patent applications for each such invention. These "divisional applications" keep the filing date of the original application, but are otherwise examined as applications in their own right.

Scope of patent application

Once the application has been filed, the specification may not be amended in any way that extends the scope of the subject matter.  While it is possible to to edit a specification - perhaps in the interests of better expressing something that is present from the start, or removing subject matter which the applicant no longer wishes to be part of the protected invention - anything that adds in a substantive way to the original filing will be refused.