Ensuring Australians benefit from great ideas
IP Australia is 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 and our purpose, to ensure Australians benefit from great ideas, drives the work that we do.
We deliver improved IP rights administration and professional registration services to increase awareness of the IP system, and shape the IP system domestically and internationally to help 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 focusing on our three strategic objectives of Operational Excellence, Service Excellence and Value Add.
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.
There is also an increased awareness within governments 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. In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the establishment of IP solutions that support innovation, cooperation and collaboration will play a critical role in helping to facilitate the rapid production of life saving diagnostics and vaccines.
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.
Global demand for IP rights
IP rights provide an incentive for businesses to invest in innovative and entrepreneurial activity, which contributes to productivity growth. Filings from international applicants represent a critical feature of our economy and support foreign investments in our market. Australia has long imported foreign capital, including technology, to grow its economy at a faster rate than reliance on its domestic resources would otherwise allow.
In 2019, growth in the world’s advanced economies slowed noticeably in 9 out of 10 major international markets. The impact of this global slowdown has been felt throughout the Australian economy, as world output growth fell from 3.6 per cent in 2018 to an estimated 2.9 per cent in 2019 and international businesses filed fewer IP rights in Australia overall than in 2018.
This fall in Australian applications reflects a softening of growth in the world’s advanced economies as well as the fact that 2018 was a record breaking year. As at March 2020, year on year growth in IP rights demand had remained relatively flat, and while there has been a small drop in demand since March, potentially due to the impact of COVD-19, it is too soon to determine the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the level of Australian or international filings for IP rights. We will continue to collaborate internationally to share data and undertake joint analysis to closely monitor the effect on the Australian and global economies of COVID-19, and in turn the demand for our services.
Technology drives fast-paced change and opens opportunities
Along with economic globalisation we continue to witness huge technological change. Technologies including artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things, advanced robotics, blockchain and biomedical developments such as CRISPR technology will reshape business, markets and the workforce over the coming decades.
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 and monitoring 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 information systems are more important than ever and provide a powerful platform for us to interact with our customers. 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.
Working together to enable Australians to benefit from great ideas.
In addition to administering Australia’s registrable IP rights and Trans-Tasman IP attorney regime, we also promote awareness of IP, provide advice to Government on the development of IP policy and contribute to bilateral and multilateral negotiations and develop cooperation programs to support the global IP system. This system will require adjustment to meet new demands and to keep up with economic, social, legal and business developments. We play a key role to ensure these changes are in Australia’s best interest and meet customers’ needs.
We work with professional bodies, business groups and other government agencies and hold regular meetings with our national stakeholder groups to ensure the continuing effectiveness and ongoing improvement of Australia’s IP system. This includes seeking their views on new and existing policies, such as the protection of indigenous knowledge or designs reform. Our aim is for stakeholders to engage with the system and help us make informed changes that provide greater benefits.
We also engage internationally, working with bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and other IP offices to influence international policy and practice that contributes to increased consistency and confidence of international IP systems. In doing so, Australian businesses are better able to engage with and export to those international markets while protecting their IP.
IP Australia sits within the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources portfolio. In addition to working closely with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), we actively engage with other Australian government entities such as the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Health. We provide advice and input to policies and negotiations that may impact the way in which Australian businesses engage with and benefit from our IP system and those of our trading partners.
IP rights play and important role in encouraging economic growth, productivity and job creation for Australian innovators and businesses. We must be well positioned to adapt and respond to future challenges and opportunities that impact the IP rights system.
We achieve this through our Strategic Roadmap to 2030 which forms the basis of our strategic decision making, outlining the key activities that inform the way we operate in the short term as well as the vision we work towards over the long term. Each Horizon under our roadmap provides a snapshot of priority activity over a four-year period that enables us to our deliver on our vision and purpose. The strategic objectives for our current horizon (2018-22: Invest and Innovate) are:
1. Operational Excellence – ensuring that our core business and internal operations are high performing.
2. Service Excellence – ensuring we have high performing customer services that support our core business.
3. Value Add – that we leverage our expertise to deliver value to the broader IP system and economy.
In 2020-21, we will focus on improved IP rights administration and registration, valuable and active engagement with our customers and providing quality information and advice to better shape the domestic and international IP rights system. We will actively contribute IP intelligence and insights to the Australian Government’s post COVID-19 recovery efforts.
High performing core business and internal operations
Meeting our customers’ expectations
- Meeting our revised Customer Service Charter commitments, providing quality and timely IP rights administration.
- Continuously improving and better managing the quality of our services through our in-house quality management system.
Updating our fees
- Progress legislative approvals to implement fee changes following extensive consultation with our stakeholders following our fee review in 2019-20.
Building our capability
- Embed our Capability Framework, including the +1 Job Specific (Technical) Capabilities which defines the necessary capability of staff to ensure we have the right skill sets to administer IP rights.
- Ensure our staff can continue to work flexibly, utilising the best available technology, policies and practices to keep our staff connected to each other and our customers whether they are in the office or work remotely.
Service Excellence:High performing customer services that support our core business
Engaging with our customers
- Deliver education and awareness programs to our customers.
- Improve our website to better inform and educate our customer through their IP journey.
Improving our systems
- Modernise our ICT platforms and environment to better support our customers.
- Redevelop our transaction and digital channels so customers can harness our digital assets.
- Modernise the plant breeder’s rights system to ensure that we continue to provide an effective framework for the development of new plant varieties.
Value Add:Our expertise is leveraged to deliver value to the IP system, stakeholders and the broader economy
Improving our data
- Build on our data matters strategy to ensure the right data is available and can be transformed into actionable insights by decision makers.
- Improve the quality of data we provide through the Australian Government’s open data repository (data.gov.au), providing more information to enable new areas of research.
- Streamline data sharing with other government entities and accredited users in-line with the Data Availability and Transparency Legislation anticipated in 2020-21.
Reviewing the Designs system
- Identify priority action and proposed solutions for future changes to the Design system based on key findings from the 12-month research we conducted into Australia’s design ecosystem.
Increasing our patent classification capability
- Continue to classify Australian patent applications using the Cooperative Patent Classification scheme, strengthening our international partnerships with the EPO.
- Develop tools to improve our classification capability and increase the value and quality of our patent data holdings to ensure Australian inventions are readily searchable in worldwide databases.
Protection of Indigenous Knowledge
- Improve Australia’s IP system to promote the cultural integrity and economic potential of Indigenous Knowledge.
- Better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they benefit from and protect their Indigenous Knowledge.
- Increase awareness and understanding about the use and misappropriation of Indigenous Knowledge.
- Review our IP guide for Indigenous businesses.
- Explore potential changes to how IP Australia examines IP applications that involve Indigenous Knowledge.