03 June 2020

Australia’s patent system review is underway

This article was written by John Swinson, Kim O’Connell, Matthew Swinn, Suzy Madar and Tamara Akl.

On 26 May 2020, the Australian Government announced that the review into Australia’s patent system had been launched, with the aim of examining the accessibility of the patents system and delivering greater support to the needs of small and medium enterprises (Review).[1]

The Review is required by the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Amendment Act 2020 (Cth) which commenced on 26 February 2020. As part of the move to phase out the innovation patent system in Australia, the amendments require this Review to take place to consider the accessibility of the patent system for small and medium enterprises, with a focus on:

  • the cost of patent applications;
  • processing times of patents;
  • advice provided by the Australian Government with respect to the patent application process; and
  • awareness of the patent application process.

Professor Raoul Mortley AO has been appointed to conduct the Review and will be supported by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Timeline of Review

The Review is expected to commence in the coming months and according to a government media release, the Review will run for 6 months with Professor Mortley delivering the final report by May 2021. Professor Mortley was formerly Vice Chancellor of the University of Newcastle. Professor Mortley has been Chair of the NSW Vice-Chancellor's Committee, Chair of the Australian Education office in Washington, Chair of the AV-CC Intellectual Property & Copyright Committee, and Chair of the Professional Standards Board for Trade Marks and Patent Attorneys.

Next Steps

The Review is one of a number of initiatives that the Australian Government will roll out over the coming months to improve access to Australia’s intellectual property framework for small and medium enterprises. The additional initiatives include a case management service, fast track service, a dedicated outreach program and an online portal. Further guidance on these initiatives can be found on IP Australia’s website.

The Australian Government will invite the public to participate in the Review in the form of general comments or written submissions in the coming months. Further information about the Review will be available via the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website when the Review commences.

We will keep you updated as the Review progresses over the next 12 months.


[1] Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, Media Release, 26 May 2020 <https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/karenandrews/media-releases/patents-system-review-support-small-and-medium-business>.

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