Doing business overseas

2 IP Australia staff members having a meeting around a document 

When you are considering exporting your goods and/or services, it’s important to think about IP protection.

Whether you’re an exporter or importer, or your business is planning on branching out internationally, here are some helpful tools and information to help you on your journey.

Protect your IP overseas

The intellectual property (IP) rights we grant are valid in Australia only. If you are thinking about selling your product overseas you need to also think about IP protection to help establish your market position.

The first thing to consider when contemplating an export venture is whether you are free to operate in the country of interest without infringing an existing IP right.

Australia’s negotiated trade agreements include IP chapters that facilitate trade and investment. Understanding IP protection can help you establish your market position, and also ensure you don’t infringe on existing IP in that country.

  • seek IP protection in each country according to the laws and conventions of that country
  • apply via one of the international agreements in place which often result in an easier process to obtain rights in other countries.

The first step is to develop an international IP strategy that suits you specific needs, goals, resources and identified markets. Developing an effective IP protection strategy will depend on your particular business.

An effective strategy might involve a range of IP options:

For example, you may take out a patent on a new product and register a trade mark on your brand. Or you may decide a patent is not worthwhile and enforce confidentiality agreements until you have built your brand recognition and loyalty in the market.

Things to bear in mind when protecting IP overseas

Once you apply for protection in one country, you may apply for protection in other member countries under international conventions, providing it is within the following time limits:

Your applications in those countries will have a 'priority date' which is the filing date of your original application.

While you can apply outside these time limits, you cannot obtain the benefit of the international convention. This means any earlier disclosure of your invention or design, including publication of an application, may invalidate your rights in those countries.

Not all countries are members of international agreements or conventions and any publication or use of your IP can prevent you obtaining protection in those countries.

There are important considerations to make when developing your international IP strategy and it’s wise to contact an IP professional before committing to any exportation

Importing and Exporting

There are a range of issues to consider when importing and exporting.

We have also created specific exporting information for the countries listed below. This may help you understand IP issues when doing business overseas.

Trade agreements

With the help of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), your business can work overseas and have better access to markets, opportunities for faster revenue growth and stronger employment growth.

FTAs can allow your business to access cheaper inputs, new technologies and foster competition and innovation.

Australia has negotiated bilateral and plurilateral regional trade agreements, which include IP chapters, with several of its major trading partners.

These free trade agreements (FTAs) facilitate trade and investment by reducing and/or eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade.

  • Read the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP media release outlining the Government’s broader program to boost the awareness and use of FTAs.

Useful tools

  • Take a look at the Export Council of Australia’s article on issues to consider when going global.
  • Looking to expand your business through exporting? For information on how to export from Australia, check out
  • Business Envoy will give you the latest economic insights into overseas markets to help you make the right business decisions.
  • Austrade provides information, advice and services to assist with trading overseas. Visit the AusTrade website to find out about export markets, grants and assistance, and expanding your business outside Australia.
  • Export Council of Australia is the peak Industry body for exporting. Check out the Export Council of Australia’s website for events, publications, services and other programs run for exporters.
  • Search on WIPO Lex for IP national laws and treaties.
  • Use the Export Council of Australia’s FTA tool to help you navigate the basics of Australia's Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) quickly and easily.

Last Updated: 21/9/2015

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