Intellectual property rights

The latest Global IP Index ranked Australia's intellectual property (IP) regime fifth in the world for 2012, and first in the Asia Pacific region, categorising it as a Tier 1 country for effectiveness and administrative performance. Australia was rated particularly well for trade marks and patents.

Australia's IP legislation reflects international best practice, providing business with the comprehensive and enforceable rights needed to encourage and support innovation in an increasingly global market.

Intellectual property reforms

Major reforms to Australia's IP system, encompassing legislation, practice, service delivery and stakeholder engagement are currently underway.

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012

Australia's Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012 came into full effect in April 2013, and introduced significant changes to patents, trade marks, copyright, designs and plant breeder's rights.

New laws raising the standard required for an invention to be granted a patent will encourage a higher standard of innovation and provide greater legal clarity. Aligning with major trading partners such as the United States, Europe and China, these higher standards are set to benefit exporters in particular.

Additionally, shorter timeframes to resolve disputes, increased penalties for counterfeiting and stronger powers for Customs to seize counterfeit imports will further encourage invention and investment.

For the first time in Australia, trade mark and design matters can now be taken to the Federal Magistrates' Court, a less expensive option than Federal Court, as was previously required.

Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2014

In March 2014, the Australian Government introduced the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2014 to Parliament, which contains a package of measures designed to further reduce red tape for those wishing to obtain or enforce their intellectual property rights, including creating a single IP patent application and examination system between Australia and New Zealand.

The Bill also seeks to provide more support for countries facing health emergencies by allowing Australian pharmaceutical manufacturers to supply developing countries with generic versions of patented medicines under specific conditions.

International IP framework

Australia plays a key role in shaping the increasingly important international IP framework, supporting the development of IP rights in Asia Pacific countries and providing a positive example for its trading partners in the region.

In recent years, Australia has focused on capacity building in Asia Pacific countries, through promoting effective use of IP education and awareness programs in the region, as well as providing specialist training.

Australia's expertise in areas such as food security, energy and the environment in particular, will also provide opportunities for local companies to use their intellectual property to help Asian countries address these pressing issues.

Global Intellectual Property Index, 2012
Country Rating1 Rank
United Kingdom 657 1
Germany 656 2
Australia 652 5
New Zealand 643 6
France 642 8
United States 639 10
Singapore 637 12
Japan 628 15
Korea 620 18
Thailand 589 28
Indonesia 572 34
China 567 35
India 565 36

Footnotes:

  1. Results are based on a worldwide survey of IP owners and users regarding the IP regimes of 36 countries, weighted bearing in mind empirical data from 74 objective sources, covering the categories of trade marks, patents, copyright, designs, and data protection.  Where applicable, each right is assessed with respect to obtaining, exploiting, enforcing and attacking it.

Source: Global Intellectual Property Index, 4th Report (GIPI4), Taylor Wessing, 2013