Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) establishes the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) for Australian government agencies. This scheme, which took effect on 1 May 2011, requires agencies to publish a broad range of information on their websites or to make that information available online where possible.
We set out below the information we will publish under the IPS from the 1 May 2011.
The agency plan
Our IPS Agency Plan has been prepared in accordance with Part II of the FOI Act. We invite comments on the plan which can be submitted online, by using our general enquiries form.
Who we are
Agency organisation structure
We consist of seven business groups that report to the Director General. Three business groups substantially make up the IP Rights Division and the remaining three provide support services to all business groups and the organisation.
- People & Communication Group
- Policy & Governance Group
- Finance, Reporting and Property Group
- Business & Information Management Solutions Group
- Customer Operations Group
- Patent and Plant Breeder's Rights Group
- Trade Marks & Designs Group
Agencies are required to publish details of appointments of designated officers of the agency that are made under Acts, other than the appointment of APS employees within the meaning of the Public Service Act 1999. In IP Australia this requirement applies to the following:
Fatima Beattie, Deputy Director General of IP Australia, was appointed to the following positions under the stated provisions of each of the Acts for an unspecified period of time commencing on 13 September 2007;
- Commissioner of Patents-section 207 of the Patents Act 1990
- Registrar of Trade Marks-section 201 of the Trade Marks Act 1995
- Registrar of Designs-section 122 of the Designs Act 2003
- Registrar of Plant Breeder's Rights-section 58 of the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994
The Commissioner of Patents and the Registrar of Trade Marks also exercise powers and functions under two international arrangements; the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks.
Professional Standards Board
The Professional Standards Board (PSB) is a statutory body established under section 227A of the Patents Act 1990 and constituted under the Patents Regulations 1991 that:
- accredits courses at tertiary institutions that satisfy the requirements of the regulations for registration of persons as patent and trade marks attorneys
- assesses the tertiary qualifications of persons seeking registration as patent and trade marks attorneys
- receives complaints, refers complaints or prosecutes complaints of unprofessional or unsatisfactory conduct made by clients of patent and trade marks attorneys to the Patent and Trade Marks Disciplinary Tribunal
The Minister for Industry and Science appoints members of the Board who are chosen for their relevant expertise.
The current board members are:
- Ms Lisa O'Neill (Chair) - Senior Principal Lawyer, QLD
- Ms Karen Spark - Patent and Trade Marks Attorney, SA
- Dr Tania Obranovich - Patent and Trade Marks Attorney, VIC
- Mr Greg West - Walker Patent Attorney, AU & NZ
- Ms Patricia Kelly - Director General IP Australia (Ex-officio)
- Mr Brendan Nugent - Patent and Trade Marks Attorney, QLD
- Mr Chris O’Sullivan - Intellectual Property Consultant, NSW
- Ms Mary Padbury - Trade Marks Attorney, VIC
Patent and Trade Marks Disciplinary Tribunal
The Tribunal is a statutory body established under the Patents Regulations 1991. Its function is to deal with complaints of unsatisfactory or unprofessional conduct made against patents and trade marks attorneys. The current Tribunal member, Ms Katrina Howard, was appointed on 18 June 2012 and her term expires on 18 June 2015. The current Tribunal member, Ms Katrina Howard, was appointed on 18 June 2012 and her term expires on 18 June 2015.
The Plant Breeder's Rights Advisory Committee
The Plant Breeder's Rights Advisory Committee (PBRAC) is an independent statutory committee established under Part 7 of the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994. PBRAC advises the Minister for Industry and Science and the PBR Registrar on technical and administrative matters relating to PBR and acts as an industry advisory forum. The Minister has appointed the following members from 23 October 2009 for a period of three years from that date.
The current PBRAC members are:
- Mr Doug Waterhouse - Chair (Chief of PBR, IP Australia)
- Mr Christopher Prescott - Representing Plant Breeders
- Mr Denis McGrath - Representing Plant Breeders
- Mr Kerrie Gleeson - Representing Users
- Mrs Penny Hendy - Representing Consumers
- Professor Robert Henry - Representing Conservation Interests
- Mr John Collyer - Representing Indigenous Interests
- Professor Brad Sherman - Member with Appropriate Qualifications
What we do
Functions and powers
We are a listed entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, operating within the Department of Industry and Science portfolio. It is the non-corporate Commonwealth entity responsible for administering Australia's intellectual property (IP) rights system in relation to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder's rights. We recover more than 95 per cent of our costs by charging fees for its IP rights services.
As well as granting exclusive rights under the statutes it administers, we:
- advise the Australian Government on IP policy
- provide IP advice and education services to the business community
- regulate the IP profession
- contribute to bilateral and multilateral negotiations and development cooperation programs for the benefit of the Australian economy and society.
We administer the following Commonwealth legislation:
- Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Regulations 1981-Division 3 of Part 6A
- Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Amendment Act 2010
- Designs Act 2003
- Designs Regulations 2004
- The repealed Designs Act 1906
- Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987
- Olympic Insignia Protection Regulations 1993
- Patents Act 1990
- Patent Regulations 1991
- Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994
- Plant Breeder's Rights Regulations 1994
- Scout Association Act 1924
- Trade Marks Act 1995
- Trade Marks Regulations 1995
- Wine Australia Corporation Act 1980- Part VIB
A number of statutory offices and bodies are established under that legislation to administer it. A list follows, including the provision that establishes the office or body:
- Commissioner of Patents-section 207 of the Patents Act
- Deputy Commissioner(s) of Patents-section 208 of the Patents Act
- Designated Manager-section 200A of the Patents Act
- Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys Disciplinary Tribunal-regulation 20.61 of the Patents Regulations
- Plant Breeder's Rights Advisory Committee-section 63 of the Plant Breeder's Rights Act
- Professional Standards Board for Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys-section 227A of the Patents Act
- the Registrar of Designs-section 122 of the Designs Act
- Deputy Registrar(s) of Designs-section 123 of the Designs Act
- Registrar of Plant Breeder's Rights-section 58 of the Plant Breeder's Rights Act
- Registrar of Trade Marks-section 201 of the Trade Marks Act
- Deputy Registrar(s) of Trade Marks-section 205 of the Trade Marks Act
The Commissioner of Patents and the Registrar of Trade Marks also exercise powers and functions under two international arrangements: the Patent Cooperation Treaty, and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks.
The Professional Standards Board for Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys (PSB) administers the regulatory and disciplinary regimes for registered patent and trade marks attorneys in Australia. The Board:
- determines academic qualifications required to become patent and trade mark attorneys
- accredits courses that satisfy subject requirements under the relevant regulations
- determines exemptions from requirements of a topic group or groups based on prior study
- investigates complaints against patent and trade mark attorneys
- where the Board considers it appropriate-prosecutes attorneys before the Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys Disciplinary Tribunal hears and determines prosecutions by the Board of complaints of unsatisfactory and unprofessional conduct against registered attorneys.
The Plant Breeder's Rights Advisory Committee (PBRAC) is established to advise the Minister on several specified matters, including the application of the Plant Breeder's Rights Act to groups of plant varieties. PBRAC also advises the Registrar of Plant Breeder's Rights on a range of technical matters relating to the administration of that Act.
Decisions under the Patents, Trade Marks, Plant Breeder's Rights and Designs Acts
Decisions of the Patent Office (since 1981), the Designs Office (since 1983) and the Trade Marks Office (since 1991), as well as appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court and the High Court, are available from the AUSTLII Law Site.
Selected decisions of the Commissioner of Patents, the Registrar of Trade Marks and the Registrar of Designs are published by Lexis Nexis Butterworths in the Intellectual Property Reports (IPR) and by CCH in the Australian Intellectual Property Cases (AIPC).
Decisions made under the Plant Breeder's Rights Act are published quarterly in the Plant Varieties Journal.
The progress of appeal proceedings before the Federal Court can be checked on the Federal Court website. The information available includes:
- name of each participant in the case
- type of each document filed in the case and the date on which it was filed
- past and future hearing dates
- current status of the case
- where available, text of Orders made.
The database is updated in real time and includes all cases that have commenced since 1 January 1984.
The progress of appeal proceedings before the Full Federal Court can also be checked at the Federal Court website.
For matters on appeal to the High Court, AUSTLII's High Court Bulletin lists cases reserved and those granted or refused special leave.
Register of Information Assets
To improve public access to our information and improve our ability to manage our information assets, we have established the IP Australia Register of Information Assets. The register is a list of information assets we control that contribute to the IP rights system and support the administration of that system. The register includes details on identified information assets including:
- The asset name
- A description of the asset
- What information the asset contains
- Who has access to the asset and any limits to access that may be applied.
Routinely provided reports and responses
We are required to contribute to the Department of Industry and Science annual report to Parliament. The relevant content covers an overview, our outcome performance (including sub-program results) and our management & accountability (including financial statements).
We will publish information it holds that is routinely provided to the Parliament in response to Senate Procedural Orders of Continuing Effect including:
Departmental policy related file lists (the "Harradine Order")
Departmental Contracts ($100,000 or more).
Advertising/Public Information Projects ($100,000 or more).
For all contracts above $10,000, please refer to Tenders, Contracts and Files.
Routinely requested information
FOI Disclosure Requirement
Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), which commenced on 1 May 2011, require agencies to publish copies of material released to FOI applicants within 10 days of the relevant decision.
We will provide access to copies of released documents and include a brief description of those documents in the FOI Disclosure Log. Please note that the list of documents in the log is not exhaustive and does not include the following:
- documents of a personal or commercially valuable nature released under the FOI Act where publication would be unreasonable
- documents to which access has been refused or which are exempt from release under the FOI Act
- documents which have been released to the media or members of the public outside of the FOI framework .
It is hoped that this measure will enable members of the public and the media to quickly and easily obtain access to material which has already been released under the FOI Act.
We will endeavour to meet all reasonable requests for an alternate hardcopy form of a document listed without charge.
Our consultation process is guided by the Australian Government Best Practice Regulation Handbook.
We also host a number of advisory and industry fora involved in consultation processes supporting the development of new policies.
We also engages with our stakeholders through:
- the Business and Industry Forum (BIF) comprised of a range of industry and government representatives
- the IP Professionals Forum (IPPF)-patent and trade marks attorneys, IP lawyers and other IP interest groups
- the IP Forum (IPF)-the innovation community, including business leaders, innovative small to medium enterprises, IP academics and professionals
- the Patents Consultation Group(PCG)
- the Trade Marks Consultation Group (TMCG)
- the Designs Consultation Group (DCG).
The three IP rights consultation groups have common members which include representatives from the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys of Australia (FICPI), the Law Council of Australia (LCA) and the Australian Manufacturers' Patents, Industrial Designs, Copyright and Trade Mark Association (AMPICTA).
Information Access Unit
Phone: 1300 65 1010
Fax: (02) 6283 7999
The following is a list of policy documents relating to IP Australia's functions and responsibilities:
- IP Australia Quality Policy
- Customer Service Charter
- Environmental Policy
- Guidelines to Refunds and Waivers
The Official Patent, Trade Mark, Designs and Plant Varieties Journals are produced by IP Australia on a regular basis and contain a range of information including material on new trade mark, design and patent applications/registrations. The online versions of the journals are searchable and PDF copies are available to download.
IP Australia makes submissions to other agencies, industry bodies and Parliamentary committees, e.g. the Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry into Gene Patents.
Any complaints about our handling of information under the IPS can be sent to us. You may use our customer feedback form, or any other contact points, to make an IPS 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.