IP Australia overview

The front door of the IP Australia building.

Role and functions

IP Australia is the agency responsible for administering Australia’s IP rights system—specifically, patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights.

As well as granting exclusive rights under the statutes it administers, IP Australia advises the Australian Government on IP policy; provides IP information and education services to business and the broader community; regulates the IP profession; and contributes to bilateral and multilateral negotiations and development cooperation programmes to promote a more harmonised global IP system.

These activities foster innovation and growth by:

  • providing an incentive for research and development by offering an opportunity to capture the economic benefits of innovation
  • promoting the disclosure of discoveries, thereby facilitating follow-on innovation
  • enabling firms to build brand value and business reputation
  • providing the legal framework that underpins trade and investment in intellectual property.

IP Australia operates independently of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science on financial matters and with delegated authority on other matters. It recovers its costs by charging fees for its IP rights services.

Organisational structure

Figure 3 shows the organisational structure of IP Australia. The department’s organisational chart (Figure 1 in Chapter 2) shows how IP Australia fits into the overall departmental structure.

In addition to helping the Director General to manage IP Australia, the Deputy Director General, IP Rights Division holds the offices of Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade Marks, Registrar of Designs and Registrar of Plant Breeder’s Rights. These functions and powers are exercised under the legislation IP Australia administers, including the Patents Act 1990, the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994, the Trade Marks Act 1995, the Designs Act 2003 and the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987.

In 2015–16, the role of Deputy Director General, Policy and Corporate Division was created. This role strengthens the separation between policy advice and operational issues and supports a stronger focus on organisational improvement.

Figure 3: IP Australia organisational structure, 30 June 2016
Director General
Ms Patricia Kelly
Deputy Director General, IP Rights Division Deputy Director General, Policy and Corporate Division

General manager, Trade Marks & Designs

General manager, Patents Chemical, Plant Breeder’s Rights, and Electrical

General manager, Patents Mechanical and Oppositions

General manager, People and Communications

General manager, Finance, Quality, Reporting and Property

General manager, Policy and Governance

General manager, Business and Information Management Solutions

General manager, RIO Program and Business Futures

RIO = Rights In One

Outcome and programme structure

IP Australia has one outcome and three programmes that contribute to that outcome, as shown in Table 55.

Table 55: IP Australia outcome and programme structure, 2015–16
Outcome 1: Increased innovation, investment and trade in Australia, and by Australians overseas, through the administration of the registrable intellectual property rights system, promoting public awareness and industry engagement, and advising government
1.1: Rights Administration and Professional Registration
1.2: Education, Awareness and International Engagement
1.3: Advice to Government