The types of IP protection available in Australia
This table summarises the types of Intellectual Property protection available in Australia.
|What is protected||Obtaining protection||Who gains protection||Length of protection||Protection conferred|
|Inventions, ie products or processes which satisfy certain criteria including newness or novelty.
For a Standard patent the invention must also involve an inventive step. For an innovation patent the patent must involve an innovative step.
|By application to the Patent Office with accompanying documentation describing and defining the invention.||The inventor or the employer, or an assignee of either.||Standard patents: a maximum length of 20 years.
Innovation patents (primarily intended for minor inventions with a short commercial life): a maximum length of 8 years.
|The right to prevent others making, using, importing, hiring, selling or otherwise exploiting the patented invention in Australia.|
|Sufficiently secret and significant information.||Protection is not dependent on registration, but on the information having been disclosed in circumstances imposing on the recipient an obligation to keep the information confidential.||A person to whom the obligation of confidence is owed.||For as long as the information remains sufficiently secret.||The right to prevent others in Australia disclosing or using the information in breach of the obligation of confidence.|
|Original literary (includes brochures, certain labels and instructions and also computer programs), dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts and published editions of works, and certain performer’s rights, provided in each case the nationality or residency requirements are satisfied. Moral rights are also protected.
By creation of the material in reproducible form, or publication of the material.
|There is no registration procedure.||Usually the author or maker or their employer. Rules vary for commissioned material.||Various- for published works the term of protection is usually the life of the author plus 70 years.||The right to prevent others in Australia copying the protected material and doing other acts in relation to the material including publishing or publicly performing the material or communicating the material to the public and in some cases entering into commercial rental arrangements and selling the material.|
|The appearance of products if new and distinctive. That is, the features of shape or configuration which have been incorporated in the product (even if those features perform a functional purpose) or the features of pattern or ornamentation applied to a product.||By application to the Designs Office.||The designer or the employer, or an assignee of either.||An initial period of 5 years, which may then be renewed for a further 5 years to extend the life up to a maximum of 10 years.||The right to prevent others in Australia applying the design (or a design which is substantially similar in overall impression to the registered design) to products in respect of which the design is registered, and to prevent certain commercial dealings in Australia in such products bearing the design or a sufficiently similar design.|
|Original circuit layouts. A circuit layout is the plan which shows the location and interconnection of the components of an integrated circuit.||By creation of the layout. There is no registration procedure.||The circuit layout designer or the employer, or an assignee of either.||10 years from the first commercial exploitation, provided this occurs within 10 years from the creation of the layout design; or 10 years from the year in which it was made.||The right to prevent others in Australia copying the layout, making an integrated circuit in accordance with the layout and exploiting the layout commercially.|
|Registered Trade Marks|
|A sign, being a word, letter, numeral, device, shape, colour, sound, scent or aspect of packaging, used to distinguish goods and services of one trader from those of another. Signs which are generic or descriptive of a quality or characteristic of goods or services are not prima facie registrable.||By application to the Trade Marks Office.||Anyone who has an intention to trade in the relevant goods or services.||Once a mark has been registered it can be renewed in perpetuity. The initial period of registration is 10 years from the filing date with renewal every 10 years thereafter. A trade mark can be removed if not used.||The right to prevent others in Australia using the trade mark or a deceptively similar trade mark in relation to the goods or services for which it is registered or for related goods or services in certain circumstances, if the unauthorised use of the trade mark is likely to deceive or confuse.|
|Trade Marks with a Reputation|
|Any sign that through use or other circumstance has acquired a reputation in Australia indicating a particular trader.||Unlike the situation in relation to registered trade marks, protection is not dependent on registration but on acquiring the relevant reputation.||The person in whom the reputation resides.||For as long as the reputation exists.||The right to prevent others in Australia using the trade mark or a sufficiently similar trade mark whereby persons are misled or deceived into believing that the unauthorised user’s goods or business are that of, or connected with, the person in whom the reputation resides.|
|A business name is the name under which a legal entity trades or does business. It is not the legal entity itself. Registration will not protect business names of a generic or descriptive nature.||Business names must be registered in each State and/or Territory where business is carried on under that business name.||Registration of business names allows the public to identify the entity carrying on business using that business name.||Business names can be registered for a maximum period of three years and can be renewed.||Registration does not provide any proprietary rights to the business name or prevent others from using that business name or similar business name in a different State or Territory, or as a trade mark or domain name.|
|An electronic address for a location on the internet (such as a website) either for a generic top-level domain name (gTLD) eg .com or country code top level domain name (cc TLD) eg .com.au.||By application to a domain name Registrar.||Anyone who can demonstrate eligibility for a domain name space. For example, in the case of a com.au, the domain name must either be an exact match, abbreviation or acronym of an Australian trade mark application or registration or be otherwise closely and substantially connected to the applicant or its business.||A .com.au domain name licence period is fixed at two years, renewable perpetually provided the Registrant continues to meet the eligibility criteria. gTLD’s and many ccTLD’s allow domain name licence periods between one and 10 years.||There are no proprietary rights conferred under a domain name registration. A Registrant does not “own” a domain name. Instead the Registrant holds a licence to use the domain name for a specified period of time.|
|Plant Breeder’s Rights|
|New varieties of plants which are reproducibly uniform and stable and distinguishable from previously known varieties.||By application to Plant Breeder’s Rights Australia.||The breeder or the employer, or an assignee of either.||Up to 25 years for trees or vines and 20 years for other species of plants.||The right to prevent others in Australia producing or reproducing propagating material of the variety, and selling such material.|