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Intellectual Property Summary

This briefing provides an overarching summary of the key types of intellectual property (IP) being:

  • Confidential Information

  • Patents

  • Copyright

  • Trade marks - unregistered and registered

  • Registered designs

  • Eligible circuit layout rights

  • Plant Variety Rights

Confidential Information

Example - Secret information about well a mouse trap works.

Protection / Duration

  • Requires strict secrecy.

  • Protected until publicly disclosed, including if independently developed and disclosed.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • None.

  • Common law - breach of confidentiality.


Example - Invention of a new mouse trap.

Protection / Duration

  • Requires registration.

  • Invention must be kept strictly confidential untilpatent is filed.

  • Patent must begranted in every country in which you want protection.

  • Standard patent up to 20 years (renewal fees).

  • Australian innovation patent is a relativelyfast, inexpensive protection option, lasting a maximum of 8 years.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • Patents Act 1990 (Cth)

  • Strasbourg Agreement

  • Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

  • Budapest Treaty

  • Paris Convetion


Example - A drawing or written description of a new mouse trap.

Protection / Duration

  • Automatic protection on original creation (not copied).

  • Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works generally 70 years from the year of the author's death.

  • Films and sound recordings last 70 years from their publication and for broadcasts, 70 years from the year in which they were made.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)

  • Berne, Brussels, Geneva and Rome Conventions.

  • WIPO Copyright Treaty.

Trade Marks - unregistered and registered

Example - A Mouse trapTM ®logo.

Protection / Duration

  • Unregistered trade mark rights through trade use, for period of use.

  • Better protection through registration.

  • Initial registration 10 years and unlimited 10 year renewals for a fee.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth)

  • Madrid System

  • Trademark Law Treaty

  • Nice Agreement

  • Paris Convention

Registered designs

Example - A stylish mouse trap involving design

Protection / Duration

  • Requires registration.

  • 5 years initial protection, one 5 year renewal.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • Designs Act 2003 (Cth)

  • Paris Convention

Eligible circuit layout rights

Example - An integrated circuit designed to control a mouse trap

Protection / Duration

  • Automatic protection for maximum 20 years but protection only 10 years from first commercial exploitation, provided this occurs within 10 years from creation.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • Circuit Layouts Act 1989 (Cth)

  • IPIC Treaty and TRIPS Agreement

Plant Variety Rights

Example - A hybrid Venus flytrapwhich eats mice

Protection / Duration

  • Requires registration.

  • Lasts for up to 25 years for trees or vines and 20 years for other species.

Australian Legislation / International Treaties

  • Plant Breeder's Rights 1994 (Cth)

  • International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)

    14 September 2010