Chapter 8

IP Report 2018

Research program

IP Australia set up the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) in November 2012. Since then, it has grown from its focus on economic research to include the open data program and the Patent Analytics Hub, which provides analytical services to government agencies and research organisations.

Our focus is to provide empirical research and data to support IP Australia’s policy advice and operational decision making. An important part of our mission is to actively engage with the IP community, including internationally, and this involves ongoing consultation on our research program and data priorities.

In 2017, we continued to explore new avenues for our research and data services, while the outreach activities of the Patent Analytics Hub extended further, attracting new clients.


In November 2017, TM-Link was launched as a beta. This world-first international trade mark database is a product of the collaboration between IP Australia, Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne (see Box 2). Since the launch of the beta version, which is currently only available to IP rights offices, there has been significant interest in accessing this rich database and it is expected to drive a range of international research projects in coming years.

In 2018, IP Australia’s analytics platform will move to the cloud — enabling the organisation to leverage cloud flexibility while future-proofing the platform in line with current business practice. TM-Link will also be a prototype for this platform, as the functionality we seek to implement is an excellent fit to this environment, which allows us to make the product available to more users.

This year also saw an evaluation of IP NOVA, the visual search interface to our Intellectual Property Government Open Data (IPGOD) data set. IP NOVA has huge potential for addressing basic questions that clients may have in regard to applicants and local filings, thereby improving client access to our IP data. It is hoped that, following the outcomes of this evaluation, the search interface can be redeveloped to include more advanced search features.

For the first time, production of IPGOD 2018 will be semi-automated. By replacing our current methods with machine-learning algorithms to identify a unique ID for applicants across all four IP rights, some existing data quality issues can be resolved. Future advantages of automating some of the IPGOD process will include the ability to provide more frequent updates to the applicant and attorney tables, as is currently available for our live IPGOLD tables.


Throughout 2017, our research continued to focus on policy priorities, including issues for Australia’s IP system raised by the report of the Productivity Commission’s 2016 inquiry. One such issue was trade mark cluttering and the Office completed a research paper that sought to examine the evidence of this phenomenon in Australia. A paper on geographical location names in trade marks was also produced, based on a Geoterms Database initiated by the OCE. Both papers will be published in 2018.

The OCE’s research program is evolving and forging closer ties with economic research offices across government. IP Australia is a member of the Economic Data Analysis Network (EDAN), one of the analytical units created under the Government’s Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA) initiative.

A major objective of the OCE’s future research will be to explore the economic relationships between IP rights and business performance. For the first time in Australia, it will now be possible to examine these relationships at the firm level, by linking IP data to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE), an initiative of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. In 2018–19, a priority project using BLADE will be to examine the effects of IP rights on competition and innovation, extending to analysis of businesses’ financial performance.

Patent analytics

IP Australia’s Patent Analytics Hub (the Hub) published four reports in 2017 and provided an annual data update on patenting in the Australian research sector.1

The Hub released a report on advanced manufacturing in Australia, prepared for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.2,3 This report showed that Australian innovation is highly specialised in medical devices and chemical engineering. The Hub followed on from the analysis in last year’s IP Report of business-research collaboration by publishing an extended analysis of collaboration between Australian universities and industry partners.4 The data behind this analysis was made publicly available on 5

In 2017, the Hub evaluated its work program. The evaluation highlighted how publicly funded research organisations and government departments use its services to make policy and research decisions. In 2018, the Hub will set its future direction based on the findings of this evaluation.

For the first time, we have linked IP data to research organisations’ spin-out companies, as part of our work on the National Survey of Research Commercialisation 2017.6 The spin-out company data have been incorporated into IPGOD for public access. By linking these companies to their parent organisations, we can quantify the success of commercialisation outcomes for research organisations in terms of IP.
We can now compare the number of patent families filed by a research organisation with the number of filings by their controlled entities. On average, 22.5 per cent of patent families relating to research organisations are filed by spin-out companies. The largest IP holdings by spin-out entities are associated with The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney and CSIRO. Griffith University, the Telethon Kids Institute and the Burnett Institute have the greatest proportion of IP activity coming from their controlled entities.

The aim of IP Australia’s program of economic analysis and research is ultimately to evaluate the economic impact of various components of the IP system. This assists evidence-based operational and 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 should e-mail us via Data requests may also be sent to the same e-mail address. Follow us on Twitter (@IPAustralia_OCE) and visit us online at

End notes


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