I have been working on a product for many years now by myself. I know that a Patent is to protect someone else stealing your ideas. But if I publicly release my product do I still need a Patent, or is it something I need forever to protect my ideas. Because we don't have much money in our budget. If I do require one, how much will it cost(Australia?)
I have been working on a product for many years now by myself.
Patent protection depends on novelty if your work was published in any way or any one has the publication which effect this factor you might loose the patent protection.
if I publicly release my product do I still need a Patent?
No generally One does not require a patent to sell product, but it helps you in two ways first it can be used as protective tool to keep out the competition. Secondly on other hand by using generalized claims in application you will come to know which patents are close to your invention and evaultate does any patents are infringed by using said product.
I need forever to protect my ideas.
Patents are for 20 years only, you cant protect it for forever.
how much will it cost(Australia?)
I am afraid this is not under scope of 'Ask Patents' but you can find this information on Australian patent office.