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Our role and functions

IP Australia is responsible for administering Australia’s IP rights system, specifically trade marks, patents, designs and plant breeder’s rights, and regulation of the IP attorney profession. The legislation we administer includes the Patents Act 1990, the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994, the Trade Marks Act 1995 and the Designs Act 2003.

To achieve our outcome (see ‘Outcome and program structure’ below), IP Australia grants exclusive IP rights for a period. This fosters innovation, investment and international competitiveness by:

  • providing an effective legal framework for protecting products and brands, creating a secure environment for investment
  • promoting the disclosure of discoveries and follow-on generation of ideas
  • enabling firms to build brand value and business reputation, which in turn help improve consumer confidence
  • providing incentives for undertaking research and development.

IP Australia also promotes awareness of IP, provides advice to government on the development of IP policy, and contributes to bilateral and multilateral negotiations and development of cooperation programs to support the global IP system.

We operate as a non-corporate Commonwealth entity within the portfolio and recover almost all of our costs by charging fees for the IP rights services we administer.

Our Executive

The Director General is the accountable authority of IP Australia. Table 2 provides details of the person who held that position during the reporting period.

Table 2: IP Australia accountable authority, 2019-20


Position title/Position held

Period as the accountable authority



Michael Schwager

Director General

20 September 2018


Our structure

The Director General is assisted by two Deputy Director Generals who manage the two divisions within IP Australia:

  • The Deputy Director General of the IP Rights Division holds the statutory offices of Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade Marks, Registrar of Designs and Registrar of Plant Breeder’s Rights.
  • The Deputy Director General of the Policy and Corporate Division is responsible for policy advice, corporate support, international engagement, and education and awareness activities.

Table 3 shows IP Australia's organisational structure.

Table 3: IP Australia organisational structure, 30 June 2020

Director General

Michael Schwager

Deputy Director General, IP Rights Division

Deputy Director General, Policy and Corporate Divsion

General Manager, Trade Marks and Designs

General Manager, Patents, Chemical, Plant Breeder’s Rights and Electrical

General Manager, Patents, Mechanical and Oppositions

General Manager, People and Communication

General Manager (Chief Financial Officer), Finance and Business Services

General Manager, Policy and Governance

General Manager (Chief Information Officer), Innovation and Technology

Outcome and program structure

IP Australia has one outcome, and three programs that contribute to achieving that outcome.

Table 4: IP Australia outcome and program structure, 2019-20

Outcome 1

Increased innovation, investment and trade in Australia, and by Australians overseas, through the administration of the registrable intellectual property rights system, promoting public awareness and industry engagement, and advising government

Program 1

Program 2

Program 3

IP Rights Administration and Professional Registration

Education and Awareness

Advice to Government and International Engagement


Ensure Australians benefit from great ideas