Expand safe harbour for patent and trade marks attorneys from prosecution under state and territory legal profession acts

At a glance

Policy ID: 24

Status: Closed

Priority: Low

Patents Trade marks Attorney regulation

Issue summary

Under the various State and Territory Legal Profession Acts, it is a crime for anyone other than a legal practitioner to 'engage in legal practice' without some relevant exception applying. Exemptions include acting under the authority of a law of the Commonwealth, such as for patent and trade mark attorneys.

The provisions setting out what patent or trade mark attorneys may and may not do might not be sufficiently clear. This may put attorneys at risk of being penalised for trespassing on the legal practitioners' reserve. The areas of uncertainty are specifically with work in the trade marks and designs fields, advice on IP-related matters, and the right of registered attorneys to use the expression "attorney" to describe themselves.

Review of the scope of patent and trade mark attorney's practice rights could determine if clarification is required.


  • On hold 4 September 2017
  • Closed August 2020


IP Australia doesn't have sufficient evidence of a problem to justify action at this time. IP Australia is monitoring this issue, and would welcome any relevant evidence from stakeholders.

No evidence of a problem; the patent and trade mark attorney professions appear to be operating without need for additional safe harbour. Review of the operation of the trans-Tasman attorney regime will give stakeholders the opportunity to raise any concerns about the profession; could be reconsidered if new evidence is presented there.

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