Patents

A patent is a grant by the government of an exclusive right for a specific term to prevent others from using your invention.

Getting a patent for your invention is a complex legal process. You need expert help from a patent attorney to give you the best chance of securing good protection for your invention.

It is critical that you do not reveal your invention to anyone before speaking to a patent attorney. If you tell anyone about your invention before filing a patent application, you may not be able to get a patent.

What is a patent?

A patent is a grant by the government of an exclusive right for a specific term to prevent others from using your invention. In New Zealand, the term is 20 years.

The purpose of this exclusive right is to give you a chance to at least recover development costs, which encourages research and development.

You may patent new:

• products
• machines
• electronics
• compositions
• processes
• software.

You cannot get a patent for a basic idea on its own without explaining how to put the idea into practice.

Inventions should be protected if they are likely to be commercially popular or important to industry. Your invention must be secret before filing your patent application. You must not reveal, sell, or advertise the invention to the public before applying for a patent. If you use your invention before filing an application, you may limit your patenting options. If you need a third party to assess or help with the invention, make sure they sign a confidentiality agreement before revealing your invention.

The date that you file your patent application becomes the 'priority date'. You may reveal your invention after the priority date is established.

If you make any significant improvements to your invention after filing an application, you may need to file other patent applications to protect those improvements. Therefore, you should keep secret any significant improvements to your invention until you have discussed the options with your patent attorney.

To get a patent for your invention in New Zealand, your invention must be new and not an obvious invention before the date that you filed an application for patent protection at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).

Search patent records to make sure your invention is new

Patent searching and interpretation of the search results is a complex field. Our patent attorneys are experienced patent searchers.