Innovation patents are intended to provide protection for simple technical advances that are not sufficiently inventive to meet the "inventive step" requirement for standard patents. The innovation patent has a lower threshold called an "innovative step" which requires that the advance claimed differs from the prior art so as to "substantially contribute to the working". There is no non-obvious requirement. The invention must also satisfy the criteria that it is new, useful and a manner of manufacture.
The innovation patent system is designed to suit small to medium sized enterprises and individuals. They are intended to provide an industrial property right that is quick and easy to obtain and suited to inventions with a short commercial life. Obtaining an innovation patent is less costly as it is not examined for substantive issues like novelty and inventive step before grant. It only goes through a formalities check which is used to make sure that all the necessary documents have been provided and that the application is not in respect of humans, plant or animals, or biological processes.
There is no check by the Patent Office before grant as to whether the patent is valid. This may make the value of an innovation patent more difficult to evaluate until it has undergone substantial examination. This form of examination is not automatic. A request for substantial examination can be made at any time by the applicant or a third party. If examination is successful the innovation patent is "certified" by the patent Office. Once the innovation patent is certified, the patent owner has the right to enforce the patent in the same way as a standard patent.
An innovation patent specification is limited to 5 claims, but these claims may all be independent. Annual renewal fees for maintaining an innovation patent are payable each year from the second anniversary of the filing date and it can remain in force for a maximum of 8 years. An innovation patent can claim convention priority. Conversion to an innovation patent application can be made from a provisional and standard patent application.
What happens during the innovation patent process? Click here to download our flowchart.