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How do I determine if my invention is patentable?

Patentable subject matter

A wide variety of subject matter is patentable including new products, processes, software and business plans, as well as improvements to existing technology. For more information on what is patentable in New Zealand read our information sheets: “Patentable subject matter in New Zealand” and “Patentable subject matter – New uses or combinations of known technology”.


In order for an invention to be patentable it must be novel, i.e. not known to the public before the patent application is filed. It is therefore important to avoid non-confidential disclosures of an invention before a patent application is filed.

Typical non-confidential disclosures include offers for sale, advertising, public use and display of the invention. There are some exceptions and we can advise whether these apply to your circumstances. For more information read our information sheet: “When is it safe to disclose your invention?”

Some countries have provisions allowing for a valid patent to be obtained even if the invention has been disclosed before a patent application is filed. For more information read our information sheet: “What options are available if I have already disclosed my invention?”


If you are unsure as to the novelty of your invention, a patent search can be undertaken before your application is filed. This will determine what is already known in your field of interest and may also be used to determine if any patent rights held by others may stop you from commercialising your invention. For more information on patent searching read our information sheet: “Patent searching options”.