Intellectual Property

    Doing Business in Australia

    Intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, copyright, patents, and designs, are protected under Australian law. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) prohibits conduct in trade or commerce that is misleading or deceptive, and the country’s common law also offers remedies for products or services that are misrepresented as being those of another. Trade secrets and sensitive information may occasionally be shielded by Australian common law.

    Trade mark

    A trade mark that distinguishes the specified goods and/or services from those of other people may be registered under the Trade Marks Act of 1995 (Cth). In Australia, the process to register a trademark requires at least 7 months from the filing date, and registration is not guaranteed. The first registration period for a trademark is 10 years if it is registered. By paying renewal costs, registration may be extended for subsequent 10-year periods. The exclusive right to use a trade mark for the products or services covered by the registration and the ability to sue for trade mark infringement are granted to the owner upon registration of the mark.


    Under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), copyright is protected in Australia without the necessity for registration. Original works of literature, art, music, and theater are protected by copyright. Although there are varying laws for different forms of copyright material, in general, copyright lasts for the author’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years. As long as a work is original, it need not be of high creative or literary caliber to be protected. The Copyright Act acknowledges copyright in additional categories of subject matter, including pictures, sound recordings, movies, and performers’ rights, in addition to protection for works.


    The Patents Act 1990 (Cth), which governs the granting of patents in Australia, gives the successful applicant the only authority to make use of the patented invention and to authorize others to do the same. Australia has historically granted two different types of patents: the standard patent and the innovation patent. The typical patent is valid for up to 20 years (or up to 25 years for a pharmaceutical substance, subject to an extension application). Up to 8 years are allowed for an inventive patent.

    A standard patent is often awarded if the invention is a new technique of manufacture, is original and new in comparison to prior art, is useful, and has not previously been used by the patentee or their representative in trade or commerce. A conventional patent can be examined before it is granted for anywhere between six months and many years.


    “A registered design gives the owner protection for the visual appearance of a product. The initial registration is valid for 5 years, with the option to renew it for an additional 5 years. The Design Act 2003 (Cth) outlines the level of distinctiveness required for design registration, which involves a two-step test: a design must be both new and distinctive when compared to existing designs. Generally, a design cannot be registered if it has been published before the design application is filed, such as on the internet.

    Domain names

    There are various second-level domain names that fall under the “.au” domain, including “,” “,” “,” “,” “,” and “” When a domain name is registered, the registrant is given permission to use it throughout the registration period. A domain name’s original registration is good for 2 years, after which it can be renewed for an additional 2 years by paying a fee. The domain name is made accessible to other businesses if the registration is not renewed.

    Confidential information

    Australian common law may suggest a duty on the part of the recipient not to use or reveal the information without the discloser’s consent if it is disclosed to another person in confidence or in a special confidential relationship. For information revealed for the purposes of a contract, it is frequently appropriate for the parties to enter into a separate confidentiality agreement or add a secrecy clause in the contract. These confidentiality responsibilities are subject to certain exceptions, such as when the information is made publicly available or disclosure is mandated by law. Under Australia’s privacy laws, there are also legislated guidelines for the use, disclosure, and preservation of personal information.