IP Australia has recently released its seventh edition of the Australian Intellectual Property Report. The Report reveals that all IP rights applications grew in 2018, with IP Australia considering this a reflection “the IP system has had to Australia’s economic growth over the past 26 consecutive years”.

The Report notes that although worldwide patent applications have been increasing steadily, with approximately 8% annual growth between 2010 and 2016, growth significantly slowed in 2017 and global patent application filings increased by just 1%. However, IP Australia notes that in this same period, patent applications filed at IP Australia increased by 2%, placing it eighth among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in terms of patent growth.

In a country where innovation is rarely ranked amongst its top economic priorities, and indeed this is echoed in Australia’s continually poor Global Innovation Index scorecard, it is perhaps surprising to see that the filing of standard patent applications by Australian applicants increased by 9% in 2018. This is considered significant growth in contrast to the 3% increase in the filing of standard patent applications by non-Australian applicants.

In total, IP Australia received 29,957 standard patent applications in 2018, which is a growth of more than 3% from the previous year. Of these, 20,900 were national phase applications via the PCT route, and 9,057 were direct Australian filings. Non-residents consistently accounted for the majority (91%) of Australian standard patent applications, with the United States, Japan, Germany and the UK taking the place of top non-resident filers.

Despite the Government recently accepting the recommendation of the Productivity Commission to phase out the Australian innovation patent, the number of innovation patent applications increased by 24% in 2018. Of these filings, 51% were applications by Australian residents, 33% by Chinese residents, and 4% by US residents.

In contrast, provisional applications are continuing to decline in Australia. The number of provisional applications decreased by 5% in 2018 to just 4,954 filings, with 96% of provisional applications being filed by Australian residents.

Overall, the number of standard patents granted in 2018 was 17,065. This marks a significant 25% decrease in granted applications from the previous year.

Medical technology remains the ‘leading field’ for patent protection, seeing 8% growth in 2018. Patent applications in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical fields also increased compared to the previous year, with 8% and 6% growth, respectively. Patent applications in the field of civil engineering saw an 11% decrease in growth, all of which trends IP Australia attributes to broad global changes.

Turning internationally, the Report detailed that Australian residents filed an average of three overseas patent applications for each Australian patent application, with the United States accounting for 43% of all Australian-origin applications filed overseas. Europe, China, and New Zealand were also top international jurisdictions for Australian applicants.

The full report published by IP Australia can be found here.