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The Australian Patent System

The Australian IP Office

The governmental agency in charge of handling intellectual property rights in Australia is referred to as IP Australia administrative department at the Australian Government located in Canberra.

Filing Patents in Australia

In order to file a direct National Application in Australia, it is necessary to include: a patent order form, a specification, a set of claims, and any drawings necessary in the description of the invention. In addition, any portion of the specification not in English must be accompanied by an English translation. If the applicant is distinct from the inventor, an assignment document must be filed. No power of attorney is required. The required documents must be filed before the application is examined.

Australian patent law allows for two types of patents: a standard, long-term protection patent, and an innovation patent. The patent term for a standard patent is 20 years, and the utility model and design terms both expire 15 years from the filing date. Patent protection for an innovation patent lasts for a maximum of eight years. With extensions, pharmaceutical patents can last up to 25 years.

Australia is a member of the PCT and a member of the Paris Convention.

The PCT National Stage in Australia

When an application is filed as a PCT National Stage application, the national stage entry deadline is 31 month from the PCT application’s priority date. Filing a power of attorney at that stage is not mandatory, and the national stage application cannot be assigned. There are no fees for excess claims.

Recent Intellectual Property Trends in Australia

In June of 2011, a Bill entitled Raising the Bar was introduced in the Australian Senate, with the purpose to strengthen Australian IP standards. The amendments to current IP law contain six sections (schedules). Section 1 of the Bill raises patentability standards, and imposes stricter requirements for patent specifications. Section 2 exempts regulatory and experimental use from infringement liability. Section 3 restricts filing of divisional applications or amendments filing subsequent to an opposition decision. Section 4 governs law firm incorporation, section 5 includes trademark and copyrights enforcement related provisions, and section 6 is a miscellaneous section addressing current peculiarities of Australian IP laws. According to Australian patent attorneys, the the provisions of this Bill may take effect as early as September, 2012.

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