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During 2020–21, IP Australia supported key policy and legislative changes aimed at enabling better and easier participation in the Australian IP system for Australian businesses. Anecdotal feedback from the Portfolio Ministers and the Executive indicated satisfaction with the quality and timeliness of advice in meeting the needs of the government and our customers.

We launched our SMEs case management program on 1 July 2020. The new Patent Case Manager service provides personal contacts for Australian SMEs navigating the patent application process. To understand more about the patent system and what they need to prepare to file a patent application, unrepresented SMEs with an interest in gaining a patent can speak with a case manager drawn from the patent examiner cohort. We also offer SME Fast Track to expedite examination for SMEs’ patent applications. The case manager is available to support the customer following filing.

In July 2020, we launched the SME portal, an online space to consolidate key information and resources to help Australian businesses navigate the IP system.

The SME outreach program promoted the portal through explicit communication and content to message multipliers, to leverage networks that will help improve patent education. IP Australia reached out to more than 25 message multipliers seeking to engage them to share content to help SMEs learn more about the patents system. These included federal, state and local government departments and agencies, growth centres, and state and territory chambers of commerce and industry. Of these, 17 have shared content to date.

The purpose of the SME initiatives is to ensure SMEs can better understand and access the IP system by accessing information and support tailored to their needs and level of knowledge. We have trialled and evaluated these initiatives this year and will incorporate them into our ongoing service offering for Australian small businesses.

The Cognitive Futures program successfully deployed the Outcome Based Directions model to production in May 2021. This innovative machine learning model improves our patent directions process by recognising those applicants with more developed IP strategies and who are better equipped to enter the examination process. This increases the efficiency of our patent examination process by fast-tracking applicants who are ready to proceed.

We engaged with the AusIndustry network, leveraging its relationships with business, to support the Entrepreneurs’ Programme. The Patent Analytics Hub focused on stakeholder education; report timeliness; managing the volume of work, focusing on automation; and improving the details provided in the reports. The trial has demonstrated that patent analytics are valuable and useful to Australian innovators.