Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) plays an increasingly important role in promoting innovation and creativity, which encourages future productivity, job creation and economic growth.

IP also plays an important role in making new products, services and creative content available to consumers, helps promote and preserve cultural development, and facilitates international trade.

Productivity Commission Inquiry into IP Arrangements

The Productivity Commission recently completed a public inquiry into Australia’s IP system. The Productivity Commission was asked to consider whether current arrangements provide an appropriate balance between access to ideas and products, and encouraging innovation, investment and the production of creative works.

The Productivity Commission’s final report was published in December 2016.


The submissions received by the government after the report was published are available:

Response by the government

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science and the Minister for Communications announced the release of the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry on 25 August 2017.


IP Australia will be consulting on changes to the patents, trade marks, and plant breeder's right systems.

The Department of Communications and the Arts will be consulting on changes to the copyright system.

For more information


IP protection

The Commonwealth Government grants rights over some types of IP in Australia.

Types of IP

There are different types of IP; some which must be formally applied for and registered, and others that are automatic.

Patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights

Patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights fall within the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio. These rights must be applied for and are administered by IP Australia.

Patents are rights that can be granted for any device, substance, method or process that is new, inventive and useful. A patent is a legally enforceable right to commercially exploit the invention for the life of the patent.

A trade mark is used to distinguish your goods and services from those of another business.

A design refers to the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which give a product a unique appearance, and must be new and distinctive.

Plant breeder's rights provide plant breeders with exclusive commercial rights over the propagating material of a registered variety of plant. New varieties of plants can be protected so long as they are distinct, uniform and stable.

Copyright and circuit layout rights

Copyright and circuit layout rights are administered by the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Copyright provides protection for original literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works, as well as films, sound recordings, radio and television broadcasts and published editions of works. Owners of the copyright material are given exclusive economic rights, such as the right to copy or make the material available online. Copyright protection is granted automatically from the time the work is created and exists for a certain period, subject to the requirements in the Copyright Act 1968.

Circuit layout rights automatically protect original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips.
Further information about copyright and circuit layout rights is available on the Department of Communications and the Arts website.

Geographical indications

Geographical indications (GI) identifies a good as originating in a specific territory, region or locality where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Examples include Champagne, Parma ham and Stilton cheese.

Australia has a dual system for protecting GIs. Certification trade marks can be used to protect GIs for all goods and are administered by IP Australia, and GIs for wine can be protected on a standalone wine register administered by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority, trading as Wine Australia.

Trade secrets

Commercially-valuable, confidential information, such as know-how and trade secrets, can be protected by contract law and the action for breach of confidence.


Australian IP Rights only provide protection in Australia. Businesses looking to export should consider protecting their IP overseas.

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