Patents give you the right to stop other people making, using or selling your invention.


Governments grant patents to incentivise and reward invention by granting the patent owner a limited-term monopoly on the right to stop others from making, using or selling the invention as claimed in the patent. An invention is a novel and inventive product or process.

​In exchange, the government requires that the inventor provides knowledge of the invention to the public. This is achieved by publishing the patent so anyone can view it and learn how to make the invention.Patents for most technology types (non- pharmaceutical) have a maximum term of 20 years.

Patents are ‘territorial‘, i.e. a NZ patent has no effect in the USA and vice-versa.​

It’s important to be aware that a patent doesn’t give you the right to make your invention, only the right to stop others. It is possible that in making your invention you have used technology covered by patents owned by others and you may therefore be ‘infringing’ their patents.

Keep it Secret!!

Keep the invention secret until you have applied for a patent. If not, then any patent you eventually get may not be valid or you may not be able to obtain a patent.

​As soon as you make your invention public or tell someone about it (non-confidentially) the novelty is destroyed. This includes ‘commercial use’, i.e. don’t sell or offer to sell (even secretly) the invention before you’ve applied for the patent.​

Some countries (e.g. NZ, Australia and USA) do offer ‘grace periods’ for patents that won’t count your own public disclosure as detroying the novelty in the invention. However, many countries don’t have such grace periods so it pays to keep your invention secret until after you’ve filed a patent application.

Work out your strategy

Make sure you’ve defined a strategy for the patent. This includes thinking through the technical and commercial aspects of the invention as much as possible before applying.