A patent is one type of intellectual property protection available to protect an invention.  It gives the owner (or owners) of the patent the exclusive right to exploit the invention – which includes making, using, or selling it – for the term of the patent. A patent usually lasts for 20 years from date of filing.

In effect, a patent is a limited property right that a government offers in exchange for the owner sharing details of the invention with the public. An owner can be sell, license, mortgage, assign, transfer, give away, or simply abandon the patent.

In general, to be eligible for patent protection, the invention must be:

  1. New or novel
    The invention must be different from anything already in the worldwide public domain before its 'priority date' (the so-called 'prior art').
  2. Inventive
    The invention cannot be obvious to a person of 'ordinary skill' in the field, either alone or in combination with the prior art. This is usually demonstrated when the invention creates a surprising and unexpected result.
  3. Useful
    The invention must have some application or use, or improve existing products and/or processes.

If you want to apply for a patent, do not publicly disclose your invention before filing a patent application. In many countries, this can destroy the novelty of the invention and the possibility of obtaining a patent. Public disclosures may include a journal article, a conference poster, or a non-confidential meeting. If you have publicly disclosed your invention, please contact your Business Development Manager or IP Manager for further advice.

Monash University typically files around 50 new patent applications each year.

Applying for patents at Monash

If you are a Monash staff member or student and have an invention that may have commercial potential, please contact your Faculty Business Development Manager (BDM) or IP Manager and fill out an Invention Disclosure Form (docx, 127kb). We will then work with you to see if you require any intellectual property protection.

Provisional application

If the BDM decides the invention has commercial potential, and the faculty gives approval, the BDM and the IP Manager authorise filing a provisional application.

Monash Innovation engage an external patent attorney to draft and file the provisional application. The cost depends on the length and complexity of the provisional application, but is typically in the range of $6,000 to $10,000.

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application

You must lodge a PCT application no later than 12 months after the filing of the provisional application.

The Commercialisation and Intellectual Property Advisory Committee (CIPAC) must approve this process. CIPAC includes internal and external members with strong experience in commercialising early-stage intellectual property. Before CIPAC will approve filing the PCT application, the BDM must supply detailed information on the potential market and partners, plus any technological developments that have occurred since the provisional application was filed.

The BDM and IP Manager then co-ordinate the filing of the PCT application with the external patent attorney. Filing a PCT application typically costs around $10,000 to $20,000.

National phase applications

The BDM creates a national phase filing strategy, which is due 30 months after the filing of the provisional application, based on the potential value of the technology and the marketing strategy success. The CIPAC will need proof of the strength of the application and its potential value before it approves the filing strategy. It will take into account factors like low production costs and high product coverage.

The IP Manager then co-ordinates the national phase filings with the external patent attorney in relevant markets around the globe. The application is sent to the patent offices in those countries. If the application passes examination, a patent will be granted for the invention in that country.

Costs can be considerable at this stage, ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 for each country. Due to the costs involved, we will always try to license or assign an invention before this point.

If you have any queries, please email