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As part of membership of the World Trade Organisation, Australia is a party to the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement). TRIPS sets out a number of general principles, contains minimum standards on intellectual property and deals with enforcement procedures.
Most intellectual property treaties are developed through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Australia is a signatory to many of the 24 multilateral treaties that WIPO administers. These treaties can be divided into 3 general categories:
- IP protection agreements: such as the Paris Convention, the Patent Law Treaty and the Trade Mark Law Treaty which set basic legal standards for IP protection.
- Global protection systems: such as the Madrid Protocol for International Trade Marks and the Patent Cooperation Treaty which provide routes for filing for IP protection in numerous countries.
- Classification treaties such as the Nice Agreement concerning international classification of goods and services for trade marks and the Strasbourg Agreement concerning the international classification of patents which organise IP information into manageable structures.
Further detail on the treaties and agreements administered by the WIPO can be found on the WIPO website.
Over recent years, Australia has also entered many bilateral and regional trade agreements. These agreements facilitate trade and investment by reducing or eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade. Some of these agreements include the:
- Singapore - Australia Free Trade Agreement
- Thailand - Australia Free Trade Agreement
- Australia - United States Free Trade Agreement
- Australia - Chile Free Trade Agreement.
- Australia - New Zealand - ASEAN Free Trade Agreement -
The Australian Government continues to pursue trade initiatives with countries such as Japan, China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and Indonesia and with regional groups such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the lead agency which manages the initiatives listed above. Australia takes a comprehensive approach to negotiating free trade agreements and intellectual property is one of the topics included in the negotiations.
As part of negotiating a free trade agreement, IP Australia advises on IP issues relating patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder's rights. Other Australian government departments including the Attorney Generals Department and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service also supply input on IP issues such as copyright and border enforcement.
Last Updated: 31/3/2014