View the IP Australia Corporate Plan 2019-20 in PDF format

Ensuring Australians benefit from great ideas - our purpose

IP Australia is the entity responsible for administering Australia’s IP rights system, specifically patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights. Our vision is to create a world leading IP system building prosperity for Australia.

Our purpose, to ensure Australians benefit from great ideas, is central to all the work we do. We are responsible for delivering improved IP rights administration and professional registration, increasing awareness of the IP system, and shaping the IP system domestically and internationally to serve Australian innovation and business. We are committed to building the capability of our people and our organisation to support the work we do.

Delivery of these elements enables us to provide an effective framework for protection of innovative products and brands. This creates a secure environment for investment in innovation, enables firms to build brand value and business reputation, and encourages the disclosure of inventions and the transfer of knowledge and technology.

We deliver on our responsibilities by focussing on our three strategic objectives of Operational Excellence, Service Excellence and Value Add.

A visual representation of IP Australia's vision, purpose and strategic objectives

Operating environment

As we move to a more globalised and knowledge-based economy, IP is the backbone of most high value enterprises. Intangible assets now make up the majority of the value of leading global companies and many local companies.

Businesses and markets acknowledge the extent to which IP underwrites their value. We see this in the level of company value ascribed to IP assets when companies are sold or invested in. We see it in the range of legal actions relating to IP (particularly by large technology companies) demonstrating a determination to protect their intellectual assets. We also see it in the international trade agenda, where IP is increasingly a key focus of negotiations.

Within governments also there is an increased awareness that IP is an important economic asset which can generate growth, jobs and innovation by encouraging trade, investment, research and development, and technology diffusion. This leads to a greater focus on developing and implementing policies to attract and retain IP and capture benefit.

It is critical that the IP system in Australia adapts to this changing landscape to serve Australian innovation and business both at home and abroad.

A fit-for-purpose Australian Public Service

In 2018 the Government announced an independent review of the Australian Public Service (APS) to ensure the APS is fit-for-purpose for the coming decades. The review has been tasked with examining the capability, culture and operating model of the APS, to ensure the future APS is agile, innovative, adaptable and an employer of choice, delivering high quality policy advice, regulatory oversight, programs and services.

The review’s draft report was released in March 2019. The draft report recognises the opportunities that enhanced use of data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and automation present and a growing expectation from citizens for personalised and automated delivery of services. Through our IT Strategy 2020 we are well placed to embrace the new technologies and IT skills necessary to meet customer expectations in an increasingly digital and data-driven world.

When the final report is delivered, later in 2019, we will work with colleagues across the APS to implement the recommendations and build an APS that is fit-for-purpose into the future.

Global demand for IP rights continues to rise

The Australia Intellectual Property (IP) Report 2019 indicates that Australians are increasingly using the IP system and there is growing demand for all four IP rights. The report shows a record number of trade mark applications in 2018, with Australian residents as the majority of applicants. However, the number of applications overall is growing due to an increasing number of non-residents applying. In contrast, the majority of applications for standard patents were from non-residents.

In line with the potential provided by global markets, businesses are now increasingly likely to file for IP protection outside of their country of origin and register an IP right with multiple IP offices. Australians file many more applications for IP rights overseas than in Australia, reflecting a healthy interest in entering export markets.

In response to this environment IP Australia seeks to facilitate trade and engagement opportunities for Australian firms and pursue strategies that contribute to a more consistent global operating environment.

Technology drives fast-paced change and opens opportunities

Hand in hand with economic globalisation we continue to witness huge technological change. Technologies including artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things, advanced robotics and biomedical developments such as CRISPR technology will lead to fundamental change over coming decades. They promise to reshape business, markets and the workforce.

Some of these new technologies will also have an impact on the way we manage the IP system itself, e.g. Blockchain or distributed ledger technology, which could potentially provide a basis for alternative IP trading platforms.

Rapid developments in device connectivity, computing power, artificial intelligence and data capacity are fuelling growth in digital technologies, with implications for IP functions and processes. Digital technologies provide us with options for more efficient administration, examination, monitoring and enforcement of IP rights.

The way we interact with each other has also increasingly moved online. Customers expect leading-edge online services to facilitate their use of the IP system. Digital service platforms are more important than ever and provide a powerful platform for us to interact with our customers.

IP Australia is pursuing the opportunities presented by these developments, as they rapidly transform business and policy environments with the potential for both positive and disruptive change.

We are increasingly utilising smart analytics and improved data holdings to innovate and find efficiencies in how we conduct our work and improved methods to gain insights on our data. We aim to position IP Australia at the leading edge of technology and leverage our knowledge and expertise to add value to the IP system both at home and abroad.

Stakeholders are central to our priorities

IP Australia has a wide range of stakeholders, as set out below. Our activities reflect a balance between the needs and aspirations of our direct customers and those of our wider stakeholder group, to ensure Australians benefit from great ideas.

We have an important role in the Government’s innovation agenda, where we work to support businesses to capture the benefits of their entrepreneurship and innovation, and so contribute to growth and job creation.

It is also important we work closely with international stakeholders to facilitate a conducive environment for trade, investment and technology transfer. Our approach is to focus on collaboration and engagement with stakeholders to improve our effectiveness and performance.

A visual representation of IP Australia's stakeholders

Strategic objectives

Operational Excellence – high performing core business and internal operations

IP Australia will continue to focus on meeting customer demand in line with our Customer Service Charter commitments.

We will ensure that our in-house quality system supports continuous improvement of our services and processes, provides positive customer outcomes and helps ensure that we continue to meet customer expectations. We will focus on finding efficiencies in our processes, better utilise the technical expertise of our workforce, and actively invest in smart tools to support high quality examination.

In 2019-20 we will be conducting a Fee Review to ensure we remain compliant with the Australian Government Charging Framework. The review will consider the Government’s response to recommendations from the Productivity Commissions Inquiry into Australia’s Intellectual Property Arrangements, how the structure of our fees drive the quality of IP applications and where we are placed in a competitive global marketplace.

In 2019-20 we will implement IP Australia’s Capability Framework which defines the required capabilities of staff and job roles to ensure we have the right skillsets to deliver for the government and our customers. This work is complemented by the pilot trials currently underway to test new ways of managing and measuring examination work and motivating staff in production areas.

To create a better workplace, we will equip staff with the knowledge and ability to maximise the benefits of an activity-based work environment. This will include providing opportunities to better collaborate across the organisation using technology solutions. Our people will be supported by policies and practices to enable them to be more flexible when and where they work. This aims to ensure positive organisational outcomes and the attraction and retention of highly skilled staff.

Service Excellence – high performing customer services that support our core business

We are dedicated to driving economic growth by encouraging engagement with our IP system through targeted education and awareness strategies. We will continue to explore new technologies to remain current with global trends in IP service delivery.

As part of our commitment to deliver new and improved customer-centric, digitally driven solutions, we will continue to explore the use of technology solutions to enhance customer experiences, including through improved immediacy, reliability and connectedness of our external-facing services.

In alignment with the IT Strategy 2022, IP Australia is committed to delivering world leading digital IP services that are modern, effective and efficient to ensure all Australian’s benefit from great ideas. We will focus on modernising our ICT platforms and environments to better support customers. We will lead in leveraging AI and machine learning to support more efficient and effective capabilities.

In 2019-20 we will continue work to redevelop our transactional and digital channels using newer technology and approaches to facilitate improved customer interactions with IP Australia. A key component of this is the modernisation of our digital platforms through the Transactional Digital Services (TDS) program which enables customers and the software industry to harness our digital assets and create innovative and cutting-edge customer offerings.

IP Australia will investigate a modernised PBR systems platform to ensure that we continue to provide adequate and effective legal IP framework for the development of new plant varieties. This will ensure the agency continues to support Australian plant breeders, remains internationally competitive and improves efficiency in our business processes to provide enhanced customer experiences.

Value Add – our expertise is leveraged to deliver value to the IP system, stakeholders and the broader economy

IP Australia seeks to use its unique access to IP data and knowledge and expertise to add value in a range of ways. We will progress our Data Matters Strategy, ensuring that the right data is available to those who need it – anywhere and anytime. 2019-20 will see the expansion of the IP Data Platform. Following the successful public release of the IP Data Platform in April 2019, our vision is to build the Platform into a complete end-to-end analytics environment where the best available IP data from across the globe is available. The Platform provides expert data users access to an environment where they can model data to fit reporting requirements and deliver live dashboards that offer value to IP offices and the IP community. The Platform is a key component of IP Australia’s International Engagement Strategy and will build the agency’s profile as a global leader in data and analytics.

In 2019-20 the agency will commence a review program of the Australian Designs system. The aim of this is to build stronger relationships with customers and stakeholders by creating a better understanding of their motivations and experiences. Customer and stakeholder consultation will inform the development of research activities in to the system and how it might be improved to ensure it continues to meet the needs of customers and stakeholders into the future.

IP Australia will commence classification of Australian originating applications using the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) scheme. Becoming a CPC Classifying Office will strengthen IP Australia’s partnerships in direct alignment with our vision of creating a world leading IP system. We will develop advanced tools and structured databases that include a CPC search capability, leading to an increase in the value and quality of our patent data holdings.

IP Australia is seeking to improve Australia’s IP system to better promote the cultural integrity and economic potential of Indigenous Knowledge. Several new initiatives were identified through our stakeholder consultation in 2018-19. We will develop a workplan to progress these initiatives and commence consultation on priority initiatives during 2019-20.

The lens through which we operate

In delivering our forward agenda we will consider the impact of our activities in three key areas:

  • Stakeholders
  • Core business
  • Workforce

Our strategies and approach over the life of the 2019-20 Corporate Plan are outlined in the following performance monitoring section.