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
More information on the Agency including the organisation structure can be found on the Agency Overview page on the website.
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:
Frances Roden, Deputy Director General of IP Australia, holds the following statutory roles:
- 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.
Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board
The Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board is a statutory body established under section 227A of the Patents Act 1990 and constituted under the Patents Regulations 1991. It is responsible for administering the regulatory and disciplinary regimes for patent and trade marks attorneys in Australia and New Zealand. Further information can be found on the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board's website.
Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Disciplinary Tribunal
The Tribunal is a statutory body established under regulation 20.61 of the Patents Regulations 1991. Its function is to hear and determine disciplinary proceedings commenced by the Board against registered patents attorneys and trade marks attorneys.
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, Innovation 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:
- 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
- Trade Marks Act 1995
- Trade Marks Regulations 1995
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
- Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board-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.
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
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) requires 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; and/or
- documents which have been released to the media or members of the public outside of the FOI framework.
The purpose of this measure is to assist members of the public and the media to obtain access to material which has already been released under the FOI Act.
Note, however, that the FOI Act does permit IP Australia to seek costs associated with the processing of an FOI application if the request is for a voluminous amount of pages or requires retrieval of multiple documents that are not readily available electronically.
IP Australia also routinely publishes documents voluntarily under the Information Publication Scheme (Part II of the FOI Act).
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 engage with our stakeholders through various consultation groups including:
- the IP Stakeholders Forum (IPSF) -patent and trade marks attorneys, IP lawyers and other IP interest groups
- the Patents Consultation Group (PCG)
- the Trade Marks and Designs Consultation Group (TMDCG)
- the Plant Breeder's Rights Consultation Group (PBRCG).
Information Access Unit
Phone: 1300 65 1010
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, as well as new plant varieties. 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.