IP Australia sees 10 percent jump in Australian patent applications

The Australian Intellectual Property Report 2016 by IP Australia has revealed businesses are increasingly protecting their inventions and brands, with patent applications growing by 10 percent in 2015.

Innovation by Australians is on the rise both locally and abroad, according to the latest details provided by the Australian Intellectual Property Report 2016.

The annual report by IP Australia has revealed Australian businesses are increasingly protecting their inventions, brands, and designs.

In 2015, patent applications grew by 10 percent; trademarks saw the best growth in a decade, increasing by 14 percent; and design applications peaked totalling 7,024 applications, a 6 percent increase from the 5 percent dip in 2014.

More specifically, IP Australia said it received 28,605 standard patent applications in 2015, of which 92 percent were made up of filings by non-residents and the remaining 8 percent were patent filings by Australian residents.

Patent filings by non-residents and Australian residents increased by 10 percent and 16 percent respectively during 2015. The report attributed the lift in patent filings to factors such as legislative changes and the global financial crisis.

The biggest contributor of patent filing by non-residents was the United States, which filed 13,781 applications. Other filed applications came from Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

According to IP Australia, there was an increase in demand for innovation patents for the first time in three years, with 1,828 innovation patent applications filed, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. The growth was driven primarily by a 34 percent increase in non-resident applications, namely by applications from China and the United States. However, Australian residents still continued to make up a majority of innovation patent applications.

When it came to Australians filing overseas, the report said Australian residents filed more patents overseas than they do domestically. It pointed out that according to data by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), in 2014 Australians filed over four times as many applications abroad as they did domestically.

IP Australia recorded during 2015 it received 73,188 trademark applications, which it said was a significant rise compared to average annual growth rate of 2 percent during 2010 to 2014. It attributed the growth largely to direct applications, which made up 80 percent of trademark applications, as opposed to applications through WIPO's Madrid route, which allows trademarks to be sought in multiple jurisdictions through one application.

According to the report, Australian resident applications were responsible for a majority share of trademark applications, where New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland all experienced double-digit growth in applications for the first time in over a decade.

Samsung and Microsoft were among companies that were responsible for nearly half of applications during 2011 to 2015, the report revealed.

Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy said the positive growth across all areas signals innovation is at work.

"The figures indicate a strong rise in the number of entrepreneurs and businesses protecting their IP in Australia," he said.

The release of the report comes following the recent announcement by the federal government to inject AU$1.1 billion as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda into initiatives that will help incentivise innovation and entrepreneurship.

Some of these initiatives include helping students embrace the digital age and better prepare for a digital future; encourage women to head down a digital career path; and establish a new research support program.

In September last year, the Department of Industry and Science in partnership with IP Australia released a toolkit for collaboration, intended for use by businesses, in particular small to medium enterprises (SMEs), public funded organisations, and individual researchers intending to undertake collaborative ventures.

The toolkit outlines practices on how to increase the effectiveness of collaboration, strengthen relationships for ongoing collaboration, and tackle intellectual property.

One of the points raised during a KPMG-hosted roundtable discussion last year was that a common problem hindering the success of startups in Australia was the lack of trust between startups and enterprises.

According to Benjamin Chong, Sydney Seed Fund general partner and Right Click Capital partner, the reason why so few conversations and collaborations between enterprises and startups happen is because startups do not trust enterprises with their ideas, and believe that enterprises will instead claim them as their own.

"Some [startups] are saying: 'The last thing I want is Mr Innovation from Commonwealth Bank and wanting to know what's underneath here, and then, voila, the next thing I know it's in the next iteration of Albert'," he said at the time.