FOR IP PROFESSIONALS

Freedom of information

Your rights

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives any person the right to:

  • access copies of documents (except exempt documents) we hold
  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading
  • seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record

You can ask to see any document that we hold. We can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt.

Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence and Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.

Other information that will help you:

How to make a request

Your request must:

  • be in writing
  • state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act (if your FOI request can be processed under Administrative access you will be advised in writing and asked if you wish to proceed under administrative access or continue with your FOI Request)
  • provide information about the document(s) to assist us to process your request
  • provide an address for reply

Online: Register or logon to eServices to submit an FOI request online.

By post: FOI Contact Officer, Information Access Unit, IP Australia, PO Box 200, Woden ACT 2606

By email: foi@ipaustralia.gov.au

In person: The Canberra Office, opening hours are between 9 am and 5 pm AEST, Monday to Friday. You can find us at:

Ground Floor
Discovery House
47 Bowes Street
Phillip ACT 2606

If you ask a third party to make an FOI request on your behalf, you need to provide a specific, written authority to send copies of documents to you, care of that person, or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing information about you.

If you require assistance with your request, please contact the FOI Contact Officer on 1300 65 10 10.

Fees and charges

There is no application fee for an FOI request.

There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:

Activity item Charge
Search and retrieval: time we spend searching for or retrieving a document $15.00 per hour
Decision making: time we spend in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletions First five hours: Nil Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Photocopying:$0.10 per page
Copy of Video:$20 per copy
Copy of CD:$5 per copy
Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium $4.40 per page of transcript
Inspection: supervision by an agency officer while you inspect documents or hearings or viewings of an audio or visual recording at our office. $6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Postage: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request $1.45 / 1 - 50 pages $2.45 / 51 - 100 pages $7.55 / 101 - 200 pages $8.10 / 201 - 400 pages

If we decide to impose a charge, we will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.

You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide some evidence.

What you can expect from us

We will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. We will also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your request. We will give you our decision within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult them and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.

If you disagree with our decision

When we have made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal rights.

You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:

  • if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access
  • if we impose a charge
  • if we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading

A third party who disagrees with our decision to give you documents that contain information about them can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.

Freedom of information - exempt information

The right to access documents held by government is subject to certain limitations that ensure sensitive information, including personal, secret or national security information, is properly protected. If you request a document from IP Australia under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act), you may not be given access to the document if it falls within one of the categories of exemptions under the FOI Act. There are two types of exemptions: documents which are exempt, and documents which are conditionally exempt and will not be released if their disclosure would be contrary to the public interest. If we decide not to provide a document to you because the document falls within one of the exempt or conditionally exempt categories, we will explain our reasons in the notice of decision we give you. If exempt information can be deleted from part of a document, an edited copy of the document will be provided. If you do not agree with the agency's decision, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed by IP Australia or the Australian Information Commissioner.

For further information please refer to the OAIC FOI fact sheet 8 - Freedom of Information - exemptions.

Internal review

You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by another officer in our agency. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request.

Information Commissioner review

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or our decision on internal review within 60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are an affected third party). The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Feedback 

Any complaints about our handling of FOI requests can be sent to us. You may use our customer feedback form, or any of our other contact points, to make an FOI complaint.

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available on the OAIC website. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will consult to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.

Documents available outside the FOI Act - Administrative Access

You can get certain information, including personal information we hold about you, without following a formal process under the FOI Act. Administrative access can operate alongside and replace the need for a formal FOI request. The types of information and documents that may be appropriate for administrative access will depend on the nature of the information and the agency functions. Some types of information that may suit release under administrative access arrangements include:

  • a requester's own personal information held on file;
  • non-confidential research or statistical data requested by journalists, researchers or academics;
  • general information of the sort which could be publicly disseminated without adversely affecting third parties;
  • documents that would be released in full if the request were made under the FOI Act; and
  • documents relating to an application for the registration of a trade mark made prior to 27 March 2007, which would otherwise have been made available for public inspection under section 217A of the Trade Marks Act 1995.

Limitations on administrative release

Release of information or documents under administrative access arrangements may not be appropriate where:

  • a third party may object to the release of the information or documents, and the request is better handled under the third party consultation procedures of the FOI Act; and
  • the request would cost the agency significant resources to fulfil.

We reserve the right: 

  • in certain cases to impose contractual undertakings on parties receiving information on an informal basis.
  • to charge according to the FOI fees schedule for access if documents are voluminous or complex.

You should also check the information we have published under the Information Publication Scheme and FOI disclosure log to see if what you are seeking is already available.

Last Updated: 14/10/2014

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