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Filing Trends and Growth in Australian IP – Insights from the IP Australia Annual Report

Now in its 12th year, IP Australia’s Annual IP Report provides insights into the interplay between IP rights, innovation and the broader economy.

Presenting the latest statistics on intellectual property filings, the 2024 report highlights a notable increase across all registered IP rights (design registration, applications for patents and for trade marks). These filing stats suggest Australian businesses have harnessed their strengths in emerging technologies and continue to invest in their IP portfolios, despite global economic challenges.

Figure 0.1
IP Rights Statistics for 2023, taken from IP Australia’s Australian IP Report 2024

Patents and Designs: Domestic and International Filing Activity

Australia’s highest volume domestic applicants focused across a broad range of technology fields including games and furniture, computer technology, biotechnology, medical technology, materials metallurgy, food chemistry and measurement.

Gaming technology producer Aristocrat Technologies retained its position as the top domestic patent filer with 73 applications. Second ranked was the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) with 54 applications. Australian design software company Canva ranked 3rd with 48 applications.

Update on Patentable Subject Matter in Australia

While domestic patent filings increased in 2023, there was a slight overall decrease due to fewer filings from the United States (applications from the US fell by 5.9% in 2023 to 13,872). The positive growth in domestic IP filings suggests that Australia’s innovation sector continues to invest in new IP, despite tighter economic and financial conditions.

In terms of patent application volumes by state or territory, New South Wales and Queensland were the only 2 states to increase applications – New South Wales (+13.5%) and Queensland (+9.0%).

Applications for design rights reached a record high in 2023 and recorded the first yearly increase in Australian resident filings since 2018. Historically these filings have typically focused on building units and construction elements, means of transport or hoisting, tools and hardware, and furnishing. In 2023, equipment for the production, distribution or transformation of electricity saw the strongest relative growth in terms of resident filings.

Design applications by non-residents increased by 6.8%, to a record level of 6,189 – with the top 3 countries filing into Australia being: (1) USA, (2) China and (3) the Netherlands. 

Technology Fields and Trends

This year’s report also highlights Australia’s prominence in emerging technology fields including greentech/cleantech and medtech. Australia, an in particular Queensland and Victoria, has always had a very strong medical technologies industry but we are also quickly emerging as leader in clean energy technology with Australia being the second fastest growing destination for patent filings in clean energy generation and storage.

This data is reflected in our own practice. MBIP’s medtech and greentech practices are growing rapidly and are distinguished by its deep technical knowledge and successful track record in working with startups and established companies to navigate from their first patent filing through to granted patents that have been used to broker multimillion dollar deals and establish themselves as leaders in their fields.

In the medtech industry, we’ve worked with Field Orthopaedics, Medeco, PEMDX, Akunah Medical and Smiths Medical to name a few.

In the greentech industry, we’re proud to be working with companies such as Endua, Ceres Tag, and CHARM (who were recognised by WIPO Green in 2022 for their work in coral husbandry and reef rehabilitation technology – )

In a recent article, Andy Mukherji wrote about the Australian government’s investment in Green Hydrogen, Green Urea, Green Steel, battery and solar panel supply chains as part of the 2024 budget.

Why File Patents in Australia?

Governance and the overall regulatory framework in Australia allow for a fair and effective IP system.  

In addition, securing IP protection in Australia is less complex compared to many other jurisdictions.

The AU patent system has been set up to provide potential for alternative dispute resolution – damages, account of profit and settlement, as well as generous extension of time provisions when a deadline cannot be met due to error or omission.

Registering IP in Australia:

– Ranked 21st for having best IP protection-World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report
– Enforceable jurisdiction 
– Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme & PTE

The Australian IP Report 2024

Trade Marks: Domestic and International Filing Activity

Trade marks rose by 7% in 2023, driven by a 9.8% jump in filings by Australians/domestic applicants.

Trade mark filings in a country tend to be a leading economic indicator.  A new IP Australia study estimates that a 1% increase in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is linked to a 1.4% increase in trade mark filings.  Fluctuations in the economy make a difference – for example, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a significant increase in trade mark filings in 2020 and 2021 which were counter-cyclical, followed by a correction in 2022.  In 2023, trade mark filings increased despite grown in the economy slowing in the first half of the year.

Figure 4.3
Top Trade Mark Classes in 2023, taken from IP Australia’s Australian IP Report 2024

Trade mark trends have been linked to changes in real household income.  When household spending increases, trade mark filings tend to increase in food-related product and service categories, in health and in entertainment.

Takeaways

Analysing IP data in conjunction with economic activity provides a picture of Australia’s IP landscape and the country’s scientific and technological progress.

The latest IP Australia report clearly highlights that Australians continue to innovate and grasp the importance of protecting their intellectual property.

Key highlights:

Clean technology a key driver: Among 19 major economies, Australia is the second fastest growing destination for clean energy patent filings, reflecting our position as a global market for clean energy generation and storage.  

Small business and innovation: IP Australia research underscores the increasing contribution of small and new firms to Australian innovation, and IP considerations in bringing new ideas to market

The Australian IP Report 2024

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