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Hi Minti,

The fact you have filed your provisional patent – assuming it’s been filed ‘properly’, should allow you to freely discuss the details with manufacturers, designers and the like. The date you filed your provisional is your priority date – so, if you discuss with other people now and then they file an application it will be after your priority date. This could mean two things:

a) if someone else files in another country, after your provisional was filed in Australia, and you later wish to file in that country you can gain priority over them still;

b) if someone else files in Australia or another country after you, for the same patent – it should be found to be invalid, as it would not be new anymore. If it’s an ‘innovation’ patent, rather than a standard patent – I believe you would be able to request it be checked for newness in Australia.

Did you have a patent attorney file your provisional? If not, have you spoken with a patent attorney? If not – I strongly encourage you to do so. Patents are about the most complicated area of intellectual property and you need to be sure you are covering yourself properly – otherwise the end patent may not be worth the piece of paper it is written on.

When did you file the provisional? Make sure you monitor the dates – as, you will probably already be aware, the clock is now ticking for you to make the next move into filing a complete application or international application etc – or, letting it go. A part of the idea behind a provisional is to give you time to safely discuss your invention (or innovation) with others -such as manufacturers, investors, distributors etc etc and determine the viability in moving forwards.

You might find some useful information at http://innovic.com.au/ – this is a not for profit organisation set up to help inventors get ideas to market. They also have a confidentiality agreement template you are free to use. Also check out http://www.commercialisationaustralia.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx, which is a government initiative to assist in commercialisation of innovative IP.

If you have not yet spoken with a patent attorney – as noted, I would highly recommend that you do before doing anything else. If you have done your own provisional application, this should be checked by a specialist to be sure it has left any ‘holes’ in your future protection. If you need a referral to a patent attorney – please let me know and I can give you some details.

Otherwise – I hope the above helps.

PS – Wendy, are you familiar with the Commercialisation Australia website posted above? I can’t recall if we’ve discussed this before. You are probably a little too far ahead for some of their grants/assistance, but, might still be some benefit to you?