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This guide explains what patents are, why they are useful and where you can find them.

What are patents?

Patents are legally enforced rights that give the patent owner the exclusivity to use their inventions commercially for the life of the patent.

They are granted to successful applicants for their unique device, substance, method or process, and must be:

  • new
  • useful
  • inventive
  • innovative

Why are patents useful?


  • Discover the latest developments in a field
  • Access information that's not published in any other form
  • Find competitive product information
  • Find detailed technical information about a product, including drawings and diagrams


  • Protect your intellectual property
  • Avoid duplicating research and development work
  • Discover new trends in technology or product development at early stages
  • Gain evidence of research impact


  • Protect your intellectual property and facilitate new knowledge
  • Evaluate the patentability of an innovation or invention
  • Avoid infringement by identifying protected patents

Patents & intellectual property (IP)

A patent is a type of intellectual property (IP). IP refers to creations of the mind and includes trademarks, copyright, industrial designs and geographical indications.

Intellectual property laws and policies are developed internationally and federally, and by companies and educational institutions (including UOW), to encourage innovation and protect the rights of inventors.

See examples of these laws and policies below: