The Australian Intellectual Property Report provides the latest data on the intellectual property (IP) rights administered by the Australian Government. The report analyses the volume of applications for IP rights filed in Australia, the number of IP rights registered or granted, the geographical origins of applications, and the types of innovations for which applicants have sought protection including those companies that are most prolific in filing IP rights.

For the first time, IP Australia has extracted the time series data contained in the IP Report from our new publicly available data product, IP Government Open Data (IPGOD)1. The latest version of IPGOD has been developed by IP Australia’s Centre of Data Excellence and consolidates the data across patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights at the applicant level.

The IP report covers activity related to five different IP rights which contribute to the framework conditions for innovation in Australia. Patents (Chapter 2) are legally enforceable rights which protect technological innovations, whether they be a new device, substance, method or process. The patent system stimulates research and development which leads to new and improved products and enables the efficient transfer and use of new technologies. Trade marks (Chapter 3) distinguish companies, products or services in the marketplace. Trade mark protection enables businesses to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and provides consumers with clear identifiers to use in their own communication. Design rights (Chapter 4) protect the appearance of new and distinctive products. Plant breeder’s rights (Chapter 5) provide an exclusive right for new plant varieties. Copyright (Chapter 6) protects the unique form of an idea or information extract – the way it is expressed by a creator – founded on the person's creative skill and labour.

In 2020, economic shocks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions induced a sharp contraction in employment and output. This year’s IP Report documents some surprising trends in IP activity during this unprecedented crisis. Applications for patents and design rights fell by 2 and 4 per cent in 2020. In the case of designs, this decline can be attributed to a downturn in international trade, whereas the fall in patenting is due to a reduction in Australian filings. Conversely, trade mark applications increased by 8 per cent compared to 2019, driven by Australian applicants seeking increased trade mark protection. To understand these trends, Chapter 3 includes more detailed analysis of trade mark filing activity in the COVID environment and compares this to trends during previous global shocks that impacted global markets.

Chapter 7 introduces new research undertaken by IP Australia into how exporters respond to economic shocks and the role of trade marks in shaping their responses. The research finds that trade mark activity is an important predictor of export entry and performance. After filing trade marks in an export market, Australian exporters tend to expand their exports more in response to tariff reductions and become more resilient to exchange rate fluctuations.

This 9th annual edition of the Australian IP Report provides a factual presentation of the most up-to-date IP statistics, as a basis for ongoing engagement between government, industry, academia and the general public. This year’s report is fully digital and includes additional interactive data visualisations you can access to interrogate Australia’s IP data. IP Australia’s aim is to continue building our IP data into a national asset that can benefit all Australians, and this year’s report demonstrates the important insights that can be gained through analysing IP data. We welcome your feedback, comments and insights. Happy reading!

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  1. The introduction of IPGOD 2021 as the new data source has resulted in modifications to the time series data that was published in previous IP reports.