Operating Context


Intellectual Property is an important economic asset that incentivises innovation and fosters secure conditions for investment, research and development and trade. In an uncertain and diverse world, IP Australia aims to provide an accessible, balanced, and effective IP system to help Australians and our regional neighbours prosper from great ideas.

Our 2023 Australian Intellectual Property Report presents the latest statistics on the use of registered IP rights in Australia, and their impact on Australia’s global economic context. Of key interest is the number of trade mark applications filed. These figures can be a leading indicator of economic activity as they point to new products, processes or markets. In late 2022, real consumption growth slowed and consumer sentiment declined. Over the year, trade mark applications fell 11.2% from record high levels in 2021. This decline is associated with a normalisation of the post pandemic economic environment and a return to long-term historic growth trends.

As a cost recovered agency, we charge fees for our IP rights services in accordance with the Australian Government Charging Framework. We must ensure our fees are consistent, transparent and recover the costs associated with administering the IP rights system in Australia. Economic conditions and the associated upwards or downwards trends in the filing patterns in IP rights can impact our financial sustainability. We are continually assessing our internal efficiency and performance to ensure that our services are effective, responsive and financially sustainable. During the period of this plan we will review and evaluate our fees in consultation with stakeholders to ensure we are meeting these principles, assess their impact and confirm whether they are contributing to government outcomes.

Our regulatory functions are set out in the Trade Marks Act 1995, Patents Act 1990, Designs Act 2003Plant Breeder’s Act 1994 and the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987. How we deliver these functions over the period of this plan will be informed by the Ministerial Statement of Expectations and our responding Regulator Statement of Intent. We are committed to continually improving and updating our systems and processes in ways that support reduced costs and regulatory burden for our customers and improve access to the IP system. 

Across the period of this plan, the Australian Government is negotiating and implementing multiple Free Trade Agreements (FTA). Where FTAs include intellectual property provisions, we are working across Government to ensure they are fit for purpose and support broader policy interests for Australians engaging with the IP system at home and abroad. This includes preparing to implement changes for the protection of geographical indicators, resulting from the Australia and European Union FTA.

Intellectual property rewards the disclosure of novel ideas in return for protection. The sudden proliferation of generative AI technologies is challenging the ways we administer IP rights by making it harder to determine if an invention or design is truly novel and distinct. IP Australia is exploring how these generative AI technologies are likely to disrupt the IP rights system, and how we might respond to ensure our services remain fit for purpose so that all Australians can benefit from great ideas.

Priority three of the APS Reform Agenda is to build an APS that is a model employer and sets the standard for equity, inclusion and diversity. Over the period of this plan, we will continue our agency’s journey from inclusion to belonging - ensuring that our employees feel empowered and supported to bring their whole selves to work each day. We will be building on four Strategic pillars to promote diversity and inclusion: attraction, employee experience, inclusive leadership and celebration and connection. We will launch a new Access and Inclusion Plan and commence the development of a new Reconciliation Action Plan.

Indigenous Knowledge is an important cultural and economic asset belonging to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their communities, organisations and businesses. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have told us the current IP system is not fit for purpose to protect Indigenous Knowledge. We will continue to work in a whole of Government context, through partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to develop stand alone legislation to protect Indigenous Knowledge and culture. This will sit alongside the existing legislative framework for IP and contribute to protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's innovation and creativity.