What is a patent examiner?
A patent examiner uses their technical skills to review and assess patent applications to make sure they meet the legislative requirements of the Patents Act 1990.
What do they do?
As a patent examiner, you'll be among the first to see cutting-edge technology long before it becomes public knowledge and play an integral role in the innovation process.
Your day to day will include:
- Analysing and interpreting information
- Assessing detailed written descriptions of inventions and associated claims to determine whether the patent can be granted
- Searching patent and scientific databases to determine whether the invention is new and inventive.
Examiners work independently and as part of a small team. In addition, examiners must:
- Take responsibility for, and manage, their own work
- Meet agreed goals for production, quality and timeliness of work
- Perform other search, examination and administrative tasks to achieve team and organisational goals.
What makes a good examiner?
A good patent examiner is curious about new technology and can apply legal concepts to technical subject matter fairly and consistently.
To become a patent examiner you'll need:
- A recognised tertiary degree (equivalent) or higher
- overseas degrees must conform to Australian standards and be formally recognised
- To be fluent in written and spoken English.
Experience in industry or academia is well-regarded but not essential for this role.
Qualities and skills
We're looking for the following qualities and skills in our patent examiners:
- Sound technical knowledge and the ability to adapt it
- The ability to learn and apply legal concepts
- Highly developed research, analytical and conceptual thinking
- Demonstrated ability to understand and articulate complex ideas verbally and in writing
- Demonstrated desire for continued learning and ability to learn through feedback
- The ability to work both independently and as part of a team
- Sound decision making.
Patent examiners are employed at the APS Level 6 classification. You can find a detailed description of what is expected at this classification in IP Australia's Capability Framework Matrix.
Qualifications and experience
We're especially interested in recruiting people with specialised experience in these science and technology areas.Current vacancies
Engineers with a background in at least one of the following:
- Metallurgical processing and alloys
- Batteries and fuel cells
- Hydrocarbons, fuels and lubricants
- Ventilation, refrigeration, heating/cooling, air conditioning and heat exchange
- Plastics moulding
- Composites and layered products/laminates
- Filters and separation
- Pollution control, treatment and sequestration
- Water and wastewater treatment and purification.
Chemistry, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals
Scientists with backgrounds in:
- Organic chemistry
- Applied or industrial chemistry
- Pharmaceuticals and pharmacology
- Biochemistry and molecular biology.
Communications, computing and electrical engineering
Engineers or scientists in electronics, telecommunications, computer engineering, computer science and electrical engineering with a background in at least one of the following:
- Telecommunications, internet protocols, wireless networks, wireless protocols or electronic control systems
- Data processing, computer software, e-commerce or speech recognition
- Information storage and retrieval technologies, and computer networks
- Power engineering and/or electrical components, such as switches, smart grids and connectors
- Image and video coding technologies including computer vision.
Engineers from a variety of disciplines, including:
- Transport, including automotive, marine and aeronautical
- Civil and structural engineering
- Mining or petroleum engineering
- Building services.
Engineers, veterinarians or scientists with a background in medical devices, including:
- Heart valves
- Blood pumps
- Prostheses and orthopaedic devices
- Breathing-assistance devices
Physicists with a background in at least one of the following:
- Semiconductor devices and processing
- Optical devices and systems
- Micro/nano technology
- Solar panels and solar cells
- Measurement and sensing.
Considerations before you apply
We support flexible working arrangements, and our training is designed to allow for remote participation. We also have offices in Canberra and Melbourne and a shared hub in Sydney.
- Is intensively keyboard and screen-based
- Involves a lot of time sitting or standing at an adjustable workstation, working at a computer, using both a laptop and dual-desktop screens
- Involves repetitive hand/arm actions and fine hand coordination
- Involves fine visual attention to detail and concentration.
If you have musculoskeletal or visual vulnerabilities, you can reach out to the contact officer for more details, including the availability of reasonable adjustments. Their name and contact details will be provided on the role advertisement.
After you've accepted an employment offer from us, we'll provide detailed training to help you apply the legal requirements and concepts applicable to your role.
The initial full-time training course (pro-rated for part-time employees) is competency based, which includes formal and on-the-job training. It includes:
- Basic procedures in:
- How IP Australia works
- Patent legislation
- Examination practices.
- How to make use of appropriate references and resources. For example, how to consistently apply the tests set out in case law when examining patent applications
- Teamwork and time management training, which are fundamental to being an effective member of an examination team
- Examination work under close supervision.
As a condition of engagement, you're required to:
- Successfully demonstrate competency in all areas in the training program
- Attain Acceptance Delegation within specified time frames, generally up to two years (pro-rated for part-time employees).
What to expect
Here's what to expect when you train to become an examiner:
- You'll be required to meet specific milestones during each stage of the training program (pro-rated for part-time employees)
- Each stage must be completed before advancing to the next stage
- You must complete all stages of the program successfully to meet the conditions of employment.
When you complete the program, you will receive your Acceptance Delegation and can examine patents independently.
As your career as a patent examiner progresses, your work may expand to include:
- Coaching responsibilities
- Using your technical skills and subject matter expertise to make contributions to your section and across the wider organisation.
Frequently asked questions
Have a burning question? Check out the answers to our most frequently asked questions.
When do we advertise examiner positions?
You can register your interest in these roles at any time. We'll notify you when we're running a recruitment round.
Can I apply for a job if I'm not an Australian citizen?
No, you have to be an Australian citizen. In limited circumstances, roles may be open to Australian permanent residents. We'll clearly indicate this in our advertising text and position profile information at the time of advertising the vacancy.
What makes IP Australia a great place to work?
The agency is an inclusive workplace that is committed to our people. This includes offering flexible working arrangements and opportunities for professional development. Find a comprehensive list on our Why work with us page.
If you have further questions, you can reach out to our patent recruitment team.