As we move to an increasingly 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 and 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 invested in or sold. We also see that Australian companies who have IP Rights tend to earn more profits than those without IP Rights. We also see it in the international trade agenda, where IP is increasingly a key focus of negotiations.

There is also 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.

IP rights both in Australia and internationally have played a vital role in promoting and nurturing innovation, cooperation and collaboration to facilitate the rapid development of life-saving diagnostics, vaccines and other technologies to manage the pandemic and this is set to continue in the future.

It is critical that the IP system in Australia adapts to the continual 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 technological development and productivity growth. Filings from international applicants represent a critical feature of our economy and support foreign investments in our market. Australia has long benefitted from foreign capital and technology to promote economic growth and ensure prosperity for the people of Australia.

As world economic output fell in 2020, businesses filed less IP rights in Australia. However, as of March 2021, new filings for trade marks had increased by 33.5 per cent and new filings for patents had increased by 7.4 per cent in comparison to March 2020. Demand for IP rights from domestic filers in the same period has increased at a higher rate than filers from outside of Australia.

The pandemic has generated demand for patented inventions that will help end the crisis or mitigate its costs. These include innovations directed at making public places safer by reducing the likely spread of infection as well as digital tools that facilitate more efficient long-distance communication and collaboration. In comparison to 2019-20, biotechnology patents increased by 4 per cent and the rate of pharmaceutical research on coronavirus vaccines and treatments increased substantially with pharmaceutical patent filings increasing by 21 per cent, well above their historic growth trend.

Notwithstanding concerns over an evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the rollout and community take-up of COVID-19 vaccines, the International Monetary Fund has projected that the global economy will grow 6.0 per cent*. As the Australian and other advanced economies return to pre-pandemic levels, it is expected that the demand for IP rights will remain strong from both Australian and international businesses.

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 as a Government leader in digital services 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, 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 regularly engage with national stakeholders such, as professional bodies, business groups and other government agencies, to maintain effectiveness and ensure 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 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.

Our stakeholders

IP Australia sits within the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) portfolio. In addition to working closely with the DISER, we actively engage with and seek contributions from 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.‌

We are committed to collaborating with key stakeholders to ensure we capture the benefits of entrepreneurship and innovation to support jobs and growth. We regularly engage with and seek contribution from our stakeholder groups to ensure ongoing improvements to the IP system and continued support in securing IP rights for Australians.

Demand forecast

Each year, we forecast the demand for our services across a four-year period (demand forecast) based on historical application trends. The demand forecast is used to determine the required workforce profile and capacity needed to meet our Customer Service Charter commitments. This process supports planning and management in our workforce modelling, efficiencies in our cost recovery framework, and transparency in our internal and external reporting.

In 2020-21, IP Australia forecast a drop in demand for IP rights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this did not eventuate across all of the IP rights, as there were increases in both patent and trade mark applications. The increase in 2020-21 patent filings is mainly due to a rise in innovation patent applications being filed prior to the end of the innovation patent system in August 2021. Over the budget and forward estimates patent filings are expected to fall, and then stabilise with minor growth. It is expected that demand for other IP rights will rise, but at a relatively low rate.

2021-22

2022-23

2023-24

2024-25

PORTFOLIO
BUDGET
STATEMENT

FORWARD
YEAR 1

FORWARD
YEAR 2

FORWARD
YEAR 3

APPLICATIONS RECEIVED

Patents

30,277

29,279

29,318

29,475

Plant breeder's rights (PBR)

300

325

350

350

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

2,247

2,249

2,239

2,228

Trade marks (TM)

84,452

86,236

88,144

90,111

Designs

6,819

6,956

7,094

7,236

REGISTRATION SERVICE

Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board

1,239

1,701

1,230

1,689

*https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2021/07/27/world-economic-outlook-update-july-2021