Amending the Patents Act to permit partial redacting of sensitive information within patent documents

At a glance

Policy ID: 84

Status: Completed

Priority: High


Issue summary

Patent applications and associated documents are published to ensure that the public is able to benefit from the knowledge of an invention. However, when patent applications contain sensitive information, such as commercial or personal information, which is not necessary to the understanding of the invention, publication is not appropriate.

In 2016, the PCT and Patent Regulations were amended to allow IP Australia and WIPO to omit sensitive information from publication for PCT applications and instead allow publication of redacted versions.

For standard and innovation patent applications or related documents, the Commissioner utilises the power under regulation 4.5 to publish redacted versions of documents. However, this regulation refers to ‘documents’ rather than ‘information’. Amendments to the Patents Act to give the Commissioner clear power not to publish certain information within a document will reduce uncertainty and ensure that sensitive information is not published.


  • Legislative drafting 26 March 2018
  • Consultation 23 July 2018 to 31 August 2018
  • Legislative drafting 1 September 2018
  • In Parliament 25 July 2019
  • Royal Assent 26 February 2020
  • Completed 26 February 2020


This item is included in the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Act 2020 which commences on 27 February 2020.

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