As a business owner, protecting your intellectual property (IP) is going to play a key role in ensuring your business’s success. IP tends to be a fundamental aspect of most businesses. Due to this, getting familiar with IP Australia is not only advantageous but necessary for most business owners. 

We’ve broken down some of the key things you’ll need to know about IP Australia and how utilising their services can help your business. 

What Is IP Australia? 

Intellectual Property Australia (IP Australia) is the main government body that deals with intellectual property rights in Australia. The agency helps facilitate and maintain the regulations around Australian intellectual property rights.

 If you want to register a form of IP, then you will need to go through IP Australia. Moreover, if you’re searching for existing designs, then IP Australia’s search is the best place to look. This is because they have the most comprehensive and trusted data regarding Australian IP. 

What Categories Of Intellectual Property Does IP Australia Service? 

IP Australia provides services regarding 4 main types of intellectual property. These are: 

  • Trade marks
  • Patents
  • Designs 
  • Plant breeders rights 

Just so you know, these categories don’t include all types of IP. But hey, even if IP Australia doesn’t cover a specific type, it doesn’t mean it can’t be legally protected.

Suppose you have a trade secret or have produced a creation safeguarded by copyright. Even though IP Australia can’t offer protection, there’s still a range of legal instruments that can be utilised to protect your IP. Some of these include: 

The specific legal protection will depend on your unique circumstances. So, even if something can’t be registered with IP Australia, it’s worth talking to a legal expert about your options regarding IP protection.

What Is The Difference Between, A Trademark, Patent, Design And Plant Breeders Rights?

Understanding the differences between each form of IP can help in identifying which one will apply to you. We’ve quickly summarised the basics of the four types of intellectual property IP Australia deals with: 

Trade marks: A unique and recognisable expression can be registered as a trade mark. A wide range of things can be considered a trade mark, from symbols, pictures, names and even sounds. Trade marks are often used to build a brand’s identity and set them apart from competitors. 

Patents: If you have a new invention, then you’ll need to get it registered as a patent in order to protect it. Once it’s registered as a patent, the inventor will be able to exclusively make, use and sell their invention. 

Designs: Products may have a specific look or visual appearance that’s distinctive. This is known as a design. You can get a design registered with IP AUstralia to stop others from using the same one. 

Plant breeders rights: Plant breeders rights (PBR) is available for those that have developed a new specimen of plant. Like other forms of IP, if you register your new plant breed, then you’ll be the one with exclusive rights to use it. 

The registration process for trade marks, patents, design and plant breeders rights differ from one another. If you want to know more about how the registration process works, we suggest chatting to one of our IP Experts.  

How Do You Register A Trade Mark With IP Australia? 

The basic steps to register a trade mark with IP Australia include: 

  • Searching to see if the trade mark has already been taken 
  • Filing an application (with all the right subclasses and categories)
  • Once the application has been approved, the trade mark goes into opposition for two months
  • If the trade mark isn’t opposed, then it will be published after the opposition period 

You may be wondering, what is an opposition period? 

The opposition period is essentially where your trade mark is published for any member of the public to view. Trade marks that are currently in their opposition period phase can be found on IP Australia’s trade mark search or the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks. The opposition period allows members of the public to dispute the registration of a particular trade mark. 

If your trade mark goes into opposition you will have two options. The first is to drop the application all together and find a different trademark to register. Alternatively, you can opt to fight for your trade mark by responding to the opposition.

Having a legal expert in your corner can make this process much easier, from filing the initial  application to going through opposition if necessary. Sprintlaw’s legal experts are happy to help with every phase of getting a Trade Mark Registered.  

How Long Does It Take For A Trade Mark To Be Registered With IP Australia? 

Overall, the process to get a trade mark registered takes about 7 months! About 3-4 months alone are spent awaiting IP Australia’s response to the application, as this is their typical turn over time. If you take into consideration the possibility of your trade mark going into opposition, then it may take even longer than 7 months. 

So, if you’re eager to get a trade mark registered then it’s good to get started as soon as possible! 

What Is The Duration Of Trademark Protection In Australia?

In Australia, trade mark protection lasts for about 10 years. You will have the option to renew your trade mark before this time period ends. It’s essential to stay on top of this timeline. If you don’t renew your trade mark on time, the registration will expire. Once your trade marks registration expires, it will be available for re-registration by anyone else. It won’t be fun going through the process all over again and even less fun if someone else takes it first! 

Can I File An International Trade Mark Application Through IP Australia?

International trade mark applications cannot be filed through IP Australia. 

Getting an international trade mark is great as it can help you secure protection for your trade mark in regions outside of Australia. You have the option of applying directly to the country of your choice however, many people choose to use the Madrid System instead. 

The Madrid System allows you to do one application for an international trademark, just as long as the country or countries you’re choosing to apply in are members of the Madrid System- there’s well over 100, so your chances are good. 

As we noted, you can’t do this directly through IP Australia however, you’ll need to go through IP Australia first. For an application to be submitted through the Madrid System, it needs to meet the following requirements: 

  • The trade mark in question must be registered in Australia or be in the process of registration 
  • The international trade mark needs to be under the same name of the individual or organisation as the Australian trade mark
  • The design for the international and Australian trade mark need to be identical to one another

Essentially, you will need to have the trade mark registered domestically here in Australia, before you can seek international protection for it. Going through the Madrid system can be complex, it’s always wise to have the help of a legal expert when applying for an International Trade Mark to ensure the application process goes smoothly.  

What Are The Benefits Of Registering With IP Australia?

If your IP can be registered with IP Australia, then we highly recommend getting it registered. Without having the proper registration, it can be very difficult to prove ownership of that IP. Moreover, if another person decides to register it before you, then there’s usually not much that can be done afterwards. 

Securing your IP, whether it’s by registration through IP Australia or with the right legal documents is essential for any business. Waiting till it’s too late could be detrimental, so it’s important to get this done early on.  

Does IP Australia Give Legal Advice? 

No, IP Australia does not provide legal advice. If you have a question to ask or want to know more, then it’s important to talk to an expert in IP law. IP is a complex area of law. It’s not wise to guess your way through it, as mistakes could cost you time and resources that could be invested into your business instead. 

Talking to an IP expert can help you understand the legal landscape of intellectual property a lot better. Plus, those complicated applications are much easier when you have an expert that goes through it everyday helping you out. 

Next Steps 

IP Australia plays a crucial role in securing your business’s IP. Knowing what they do, how they work and the other ways you can protect your IP can help your business survive in this competitive market. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • IP Australia is the main government body for intellectual property (IP) rights in Australia, facilitating and regulating Australian IP rights
  • IP Australia offers services related to trade marks, patents, designs and plant breeders rights, helping businesses protect their creative assets
  • IP Australia doesn’t provide protection for all types of IP. Legal instruments can secure protection for other forms of IP like trade secrets and copyright
  • Understanding the distinctions between trade marks, patents, designs and plant breeders rights helps determine applicable protection
  • Registering a trademark with IP Australia involves steps like searching for existing trade marks, filing an application and dealing with opposition if any
  • Trade mark registration process takes about 7 months, with potential delays due to opposition
  • Trade mark protection in Australia lasts approximately 10 years, requiring timely renewal to avoid expiration
  • IP Australia does not offer legal advice, so consulting an IP law expert is essential due to the complex nature of IP law
  • Registering IP with IP Australia or utilising legal documents is vital for proving ownership and protecting assets
  • IP Australia’s services are integral to securing business IP. Understanding their functions and alternative protection methods is crucial for business success

If you would like a consultation on IP Australia, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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