Griffith Hack’s managing director Aaron LePoidevin provides observations from IP Australia’s 2022-23 Annual Report, and discusses recent initiatives aimed at making Australia’s IP system more favourable for organisations looking to protect and commercialise their IP.
IP Australia recently published its 2022-23 Annual Report, which provides useful insight into the ongoing efforts to further optimise Australia’s already robust IP system. Along with annual application figures across patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights, the report discusses key industry engagement projects that IP Australia has underway, including an initiative to respond to the opportunities and risks presented by AI – which I have been actively involved in.
Who is IP Australia?
IP Australia is the Australian Government agency responsible for administering Australia’s IP rights system – specifically trade marks, patents, designs and plant breeder’s rights. Their mandate is centred on increasing innovation, investment, and trade in Australia, and by Australians, overseas.
What does the report show?
Strong performance in the face of economic uncertainty
The report highlights some of the key statistics from IP Australia in 2022-23, with the table below highlighting total applications processed and enforceable rights across patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights. Declines in the number of patent and trade mark applications processed may be a correction from the growth experienced during the pandemic and the impact of inflation and increasing interest rates – it will be interesting to see how this trend moves in 2024.
|Plant Breeder’s Rights
|Applications processed to 30 June 2023
|Applications processed to 30 June 2022
|Total enforceable / registered rights as at 30 June 2023
|Total enforceable / registered rights as at 30 June 2022
Over the past 12 months, IP Australia remained active on legislative reform and, via litigation, clarified key areas of patent law including pharmaceutical extensions of term matters and inventorship by AI. They also continued with their ongoing legal engagement relating to the challenging area of computer-implemented inventions and patent law, which we will continue to watch with interest. Our team has written about the decisions and associated issues relating to extension of term matters, and inventorship by AI.
These outcomes are relevant in the global IP landscape and provide useful guidance regarding the protection of emerging technologies.
Responding to generative AI
I am personally interested in the projects that IP Australia’s in-house Ventures team is undertaking, which included a three-month discovery process to explore the potential implications of generative AI on the IP system. The team published a series of papers that you can find here.
IP Australia intends to continue to work with industry to explore the impacts of AI and generative AI on the IP Rights system, including rules for protection of IP and the risks around transparency, accountability and ethical use. I look forward to continuing my involvement in these projects in the future.
Design systems improvements
IP Australia conducted a public consultation on proposed improvements to Australia’s designs system, which Griffith Hack participated in. You can read insights from principal Robert Wulff here who led our submission.
This consultation focused on three areas:
- Virtual designs: the protection of non-physical designs (including virtual or augmented realities, screen icons and graphical user interfaces).
- Partial designs: the protection of part of a product made in one piece.
- Incremental designs: the protection of designs as designers improve them throughout the design lifecycle.
This review forms the second part of significant designs reform in Australia, with the first round in 2019 yielding the introduction of the 12-month grace period for designs. Anthony Selleck and Robert wrote about the introduction of the grace period last year, while Jenny Wyndham-Wheeler and Radhika Moore recently discussed specific aspects of the grace period here.
Strengthening regional trade systems
IP Australia has launched the third phase of their ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Trade Mark Quality Management Project, which aims to strengthen regional trade systems and increase certainty for exporters.
The project is helping to improve the efficiency of IP administration and registration systems across the ASEAN region, and is part of a larger program to develop a strong regional trade framework across the ASEAN region that benefits regional businesses.
Why Australia remains a favourable destination for protecting IP
With a strong economy, thriving innovation ecosystem and close connections to the Asia-Pacific market, Australia provides a favourable environment for organisations looking to protect and commercialise their innovations. IP Australia continues to encourage commercial outcomes by being moderate with missed deadlines, providing a grace period for self-disclosure, and being efficient in their examination process.
For more information
If you would like to find out more, you can find a link to the full report here. And if you would like to discuss Australia’s IP system, please reach out to me or your regular Griffith Hack contact.