We work with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and a range of international agencies to build and strengthen the Intellectual Property (IP) rights system.
Some of the activities we are involved in include:
- Asia-Pacific cooperation
- Bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements
- PCT cooperation with other IP offices
- Multilateral IP treaties – working with WIPO
- Vancouver group
- Regional Patent Examiner Training Program (RPET)
- Australia-New Zealand Single economic market
- Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH)
- IP Australia-European Patent Office Patent Prosecution Highway (IP Australia-EPO PPH).
WIPO maintains a directory of international IP offices.
We are a key participant in a range of development cooperation activities focused on capacity building in the Asia-Pacific region.
Our most significant engagement in the region is a comprehensive online patent examination training program for overseas IP offices, known as the Regional Patent Examination Training (RPET) program. RPET is funded under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) Economic Cooperation Work program and with support from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
IP Australia also partners with WIPO to deliver development cooperation in other areas. In recent years, the focus of our cooperation work with WIPO has been delivered under the Australia - WIPO Funds in Trust (FIT) program.. The FIT program forms part of the Australian Government’s aid for trade strategy, which aims to foster sustainable economic growth and prosperity and reduce poverty in the Indo-Pacific region. More information on Australia’s aid for trade strategy is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website
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.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the lead agency managing trade agreements in Australia and these agreements are available by their website . Australia takes a comprehensive approach to negotiating free trade agreements and intellectual property is often one of the topics included.
IP Australia advises on IP issues relating to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder's rights as part of negotiating a free trade agreement.
IP Australia has strong bilateral relationships with a number of IP offices globally. We work collaboratively with these offices to streamline the IP system for the benefit of users. In some cases this results in a formal working arrangement, such as for patent applications made under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Arrangement with the USPTO
On 24 September 2014 we signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) about the work that we conduct for them under the PCT.
Under this arrangement, we will act as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) on up to 250 PCT applications per fiscal quarter provided the application is filed at the receiving office of the USPTO, and the applicant selects Australia as the ISA/IPEA.
Arrangements with other IP offices
IP Australia also acts as an ISA/IPEA for a number of other developed offices including:
- the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), under reciprocal arrangements, and;
- the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).
We also act as an ISA/IPEA by arrangement with IP offices from developing countries, such as, the Department of Intellectual Property in Thailand.
These arrangements provide more choice for applicants under the PCT.
Further information about the filing of international applications under the PCT is available from the WIPO website.
As a World Trade Organisation member, 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 WIPO. Australia is a signatory to many of the 2 multilateral treaties that WIPO administers. These treaties can be divided into four general categories:
- IP protection agreements: such as the Paris Convention which sets basic legal standards for IP protection and is incorporated in the TRIPS Agreement;
- Administrative treaties such as the Patent Law Treaty and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks which simplify and streamline the process of obtaining rights internationally by setting limits on administrative requirements;
- Global protection systems: such as the Madrid Protocol for International Trade Marks and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which provide routes for filing for IP protection in numerous countries.
- Classification treaties such as the Nice Agreement concerning the 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.
Australia is also a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) whose mission is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection internationally.
IP Australia actively contributes to WIPO meetings and initiatives such as the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions (the IGC), the PCT Working Group, the Working Group of the Madrid Union and the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP).
Traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions
In October 2000, WIPO established the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions (the IGC).
The objectives of the IGC are to:
- develop policy, currently focused on the negotiations of international instruments and
- build the capacity of Indigenous Peoples and local communities eg. documentation of knowledge and culture, IP management.
The work of the IGC will not necessarily result in new multilateral treaties. The General Assembly of WIPO must decide whether or not to bring together a Diplomatic Conference to conclude a treaty.
The Australian government and Indigenous representatives play an active role in these negotiations.
In 2008, with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom (UKIPO) and IP Australia established a number of collaborative projects under the title of the Vancouver Group.
The Vancouver Group aims to:
- share information and experiences on common issues and areas relevant to managing a mid-sized national IP office, and
- contribute to a more effective multilateral approach to work sharing.
Areas of focus
Mutual Exploitation: The Vancouver Group is investigating opportunities to reduce the duplication of patents-related work between the offices. The work of the Mutual Exploitation initiative is guided by
Mutual Exploitation relies on access to high quality search and examination information of other offices.
The Vancouver Group worked in partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to develop a system called Centralized Access to Search and Examination (WIPO CASE). WIPO Case is a single portal through which patent examiners can access the search and examination information from other participating offices. WIPO CASE membership is open to any IP office, and the number of participating offices is increasing. For more information on WIPO CASE, visit the WIPO website.
Quality benchmarking and review: The Vancouver Group has worked to build trust and confidence in one another’s work through benchmarking studies and comparison of quality review procedures. Our offices have developed the Vancouver Group Core Quality Standards and Attributes, a set of quality principles that are consistent with the quality standards of the three offices.
Economic Research: The Economic Research initiative provides an opportunity for IP offices to improve the quality of economic and analytical research through cooperation, information sharing and sharing of best-practice principles.
Business Performance Reporting: Business Performance Reporting aims to encourage the sharing of experiences and approaches on the collection, analysis and use of business performance measures. This information allows for prudent management of organisational and strategic objectives.
Under the Single Economic Market agenda, the New Zealand and Australian Governments are working on efforts to remove regulatory barriers to firms operating in both markets. The aim is to create a more seamless trans-Tasman business environment.
The major work areas for the Single Economic Market were updated in February 2011 and are listed on the Trans-Tasman Outcomes Implementation Group website. The key intellectual property focus areas have been a single regulatory framework for patent attorneys, and a single application and examination process for patents
On 13 July 2016, the New Zealand Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee recommended to the New Zealand Parliament that it should not continue with the Single Application and Examination processes for patents (SAP and SEP). IP Australia is now awaiting a decision on the recommendation from the New Zealand Government.
SAP and SEP would allow applicants to make a single application for a patent in either Australia or New Zealand, and have the pair of applications examined by a single examiner in either Australia or New Zealand.
Implementation of these processes requires enabling legislation in both countries. The Australian Parliament passed legislation last year (the IP Laws Amendment Act 2015) to allow for SAP and SEP, and the Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Bill was introduced into the New Zealand Parliament in 2015.
The other aspect of the SEM initiatives also covered by the New Zealand Bill and Australian legislation, creating a single trans-Tasman patent attorney regime, was supported by the New Zealand Commerce Select Committee.
The majority of Australian and New Zealand patent attorneys are already registered in both countries. The joint regime will provide the same accreditation and professional standards in both countries, saving time, money and effort for the profession as a whole.
In March 2013, Australia and New Zealand signed a bilateral arrangement to support the trans-Tasman patent attorney regime. The arrangement is available below, and sets out how the regime is to be implemented in both countries.
- Bilateral Arrangement.pdf in PDF format [91.87 KB]
- Bilateral Arrangement.doc in Microsoft Office document format [145.5 KB]
- Trans-tasman patent attorney fact sheet.pdf in PDF format [131.37 KB]
- Trans-tasman patent attorney fact sheet.doc in Microsoft Office document format [150.5 KB]
- Trans-Tasman Outcomes Implementation Group website
Examination under the Global Patent Prosecution Highway
You may request accelerated examination in one office based on the allowance of at least one claim in a corresponding application in another office via The Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH). This can include work carried out under the Patent Cooperation treaty (PCT).
The Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) agreement is an extension of the original Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot giving applicants access to a range of offices world wide. The extension of the PPH program is part of our continued focus on strengthening international cooperation between overseas patent offices and ensuring maximum work-sharing potential.
Overseas applications can be based on first filing in another Office, such as France, provided that both the Australian and overseas applications have the same priority date.
We will continue to evaluate the results of the GPPH program with the participating offices to determine if and how the program should be fully implemented.
The GPPH program is not a mechanism for requesting expedited examination of an AU application where IP Australia was the International Searching Authority (ISA) or International Preliminary Examination Authority and the PCT application is an Australian PCT application. Instead you should consider the routine request for expedited examination
Global Patent Prosecution Highway requests to IP Australia
Global Patent Prosecution Highway requests to participating offices
More information on Global Patent Prosecution Highway Requests to participating offices is available on their respective websites.
Additional information on the Global Patent Prosecution Highway is available on the GPPH portal hosted by the Japanese Patent Office.
Examination under the IP Australia-European Patent Office Patent Prosecution Highway
The IP Australia-European Patent Office Patent Prosecution Highway (IP Australia-EPO PPH) is a pilot program between us and the European Patent Office (EPO). This program leverages fast-track patent examination procedures already available from us and the EPO to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently.
Under the IP Australia-EPO PPH pilot applicants are entitled to request expedited examination for Australian (AU) application in instances where an associated application has been examined by the EPO and where at least one claim has been determined to be patentable/allowable.
The IP Australia-EPO PPH pilot program covers both Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and Paris Route applications.
The IP Australia-EPO PPH program is not a mechanism for requesting expedited examination of an AU application where we were the ISA or IPEA and the PCT application is an Australian PCT application. You may instead consider requesting conventional expedited examination.
The pilot is intended to be trialled for a period of three years until 30 June 2019. After this the results of the program will be evaluated to determine if and how the program should be fully implemented after the trial.