IP Australia experienced a surge in voluntary patent examination requests in the 2012/13 financial year. Most were filed in March and April immediately prior to the introduction of the IP Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012. The total number of examination requests in 2012/13 was more than double the previous financial year.

The main impact of this surge will be an increase in the pendency of first reports in coming years. Pendency is expected to increase in the December 2013 quarter, and is likely to exceed the 12 month customer service charter commitment by the end of April 2014. Based on projections, this could average up to 19 months at its peak during 2014, before returning to the 12 month commitment in early 2015.

In response, IP Australia has restricted directions to applications that are 57 months from filing date. This will keep new requests for examination to a minimum, while the enormous volume of pre April 2013 examination requests are processed.

It is likely that IP Australia will have to revise the customer service charter in 2014 due to these exceptional circumstances.

IP Australia will continue to monitor the situation and update customers where appropriate.

Watermark will be approaching applicants that have patent applications pending in Australia that may be affected by this delay to ensure that their strategic needs for their Australian patents are addressed.

Source: IP Australia