One of the ways IP Australia contributes to our goal of providing a world leading IP system is through our research program. This program seeks to advance the knowledge and evidence-base upon which IP policy is built. It is with this in mind that the IPGOD project was established, and using this resource the Office of the Chief Economist has published a series of targeted research projects.
In 2015 we released two reports on the role that patents play in the mining and pharmaceutical industries. The Mining Report identified 6 539 Australian mining inventions filed between 1994 and 2011, and analysed the origin and technology of these inventions from public entities, Australian miners and mining equipment technology services firms.> In the pharmaceutical sector, the patent analytics hub found that Australia ranks 13th in pharmaceutical patents globally, comparable to Switzerland and Israel.51
The Office of the Chief Economist also released its report into the economic impact of innovation patents. The paper found that the low level of repeated use by SMEs suggests that the innovation patent system may not be fulfilling its policy goal of providing an incentive for Australian SMEs to innovate.52 This work has fed into the current Productivity Commission consideration of Australia’s IP system.
Another project sought to develop a greater understanding of the role of Geographical Indicators (GI) in Australia, and is a project which is continuing in 2016. This project seeks to produce data on potential Australian GIs, a data-matching exercise completed in 2015, and now expanded to investigate the economic impacts of GIs in Australia.
For 2016 the Office of the Chief Economist is currently undertaking a series of evidence-based economics and policy analyses. These analyses cover a wide range of intellectual property and innovation fields, and findings will be made available on www.ipaustralia.gov.au/economics throughout 2016.
A continuing policy interest in the IP and innovation space is the determination of the societal value of an IP right: how much innovation does the award of a patent induce? We are investigating this ‘innovation premium’ using data from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Australian Inventor Survey. From a similar perspective, an important historical motivation for the existence of patent protection is the suggestion that such protection increases the rate at which a new technology moves into the marketplace. We are trying to empirically evaluate such ‘technological diffusion’ by looking at the rate at which pharmaceuticals listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) increase their market penetration during and after their period of patent protection.
A key focus of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) is the effectiveness of the relationship between universities and industry in Australia. IP Australia is seeking to contribute to the underlying policy evidence base by examining how research grants that encourage university-industry collaboration impact the registration of patented technologies in Australia. Early results indicate an important role for granting bodies in promoting the commercialisation of research, but further investigation is required before the data can support new policy initiatives.
Moving into the analysis of trade marks, the Office of the Chief Economist was motivated by the significant spike in trade mark applications at the end of 2015 and a trade mark application forecasting tool it developed, and is examining what trade marks themselves may forecast. Are trade mark applications a leading economic indicator, like investment, or are there underlying economic trends that can usefully inform how many trade mark applications IP Australia will receive? Finding answers to these questions could not only increase trade mark examination efficiency at IP Australia, but also provide policymakers in Australia with new insight into how IP is used, and what these uses imply for growth and the innovation agenda.
The aim of this research program is to evaluate the economic impact of various components of the IP system, in order to assist evidence-based policy decisions within IP Australia and other Commonwealth agencies.
IP Australia’s research procurement plan is published annually, with any new projects announced through our reporting structures. Academics and service providers who would like to be updated on research tenders can email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on twitter (@IPAustralia_OCE) and online at www.ipaustralia.gov.au/economics.