An update on Australian Patent Office delays

An update on Australian Patent Office delays – 11 August 2014

The timeline for patent examination in Australia is currently in a state of flux, although the Patent Office expects a return to normality in early 2015 as we reported here. This situation arises from an extraordinary number of requests for examination filed in anticipation of significant changes in our law introduced 15 April 2013.

IP Australia (aka the Australian Patent Office) has, in its Australian Intellectual Property Report 2014, outlined just how many requests were filed and the average processing times that can be regarded as normality.

The report details exponential growth in the number of requests for examination during the months leading up to 15 April 2013. During the final fortnight of that period, 15,814 requests for examination were received – about 18 times what would ordinarily be expected. Hence, the Patent Office has a backlog of about 12 months’ worth of additional requests to work though.

In 2013, the average time:

  • from filing (or national phase entry) to examination being requested was 16.3 months;
  • from examination being requested to an examination report issuing was 10.4 months; and
  • from the first examination report to grant was 13.9 months.

The 16.3 month figure is almost one month less than in previous years. No doubt this is a consequence of requests for examination being brought forward due to the change in our law, and all three figures will be higher in 2014.

Reading together this latest report and the Patent Office’s earlier guidance (reported here), we suspect that the 10.4 month figure may return to normality in early 2015, although the 16.3 month figure may remain higher for longer as the Patent Office works through the backlog.

Authored by

Ben Mott Patent Attorney & Mechanical Engineer Ben Mott

Mechanical Engineer & Patent Attorney