IP- Powering The Future

IP- Powering The Future

Robert Bollard, CIO & General Manager Innovation & Technology Group, IP Australia

Robert Bollard, CIO & General Manager Innovation & Technology Group, IP Australia

Intangible assets including intellectual property (IP) are the new fuel of the global economy. In my lifetime alone (since 1975), intangible assets have gone from 17 per cent of the S&P 500’s assets to 84 per cent today. This isn’t surprising considering we live in a world where the global intangible value surpassed US$50 trillion for the first time in history last year.

As the value of intangible assets continue to rise, so does IP Australia’s role in protecting Australian businesses and innovators, both domestically and internationally.

One of the ways we help Australian businesses is through innovation. We’re proud to be one of the first fully digital federal government service delivery agencies. We are also aware of the speed of change for customers and we are determined to keep pace. Australian businesses and innovators should always have the tools to protect their IP. We’re passionate about delivering capabilities that support our goal of achieving a world-leading IP system which contributes to Australia’s prosperity.

IP Australia’s purpose is to ensure Australians benefit from great ideas. It’s our goal to support this through innovation and delivering world leading digital IP services.

Our innovation leads directly to our value-add services.

‘Smart Trade Mark’

The ‘Smart Trade Mark’ initiative is exploring concepts relating to better digitally enabling trade marks. We recently trialled blockchain technology to provide an immutable (an object whose state cannot be modified after it is created) record of supply. Using blockchain in a multi technology platform we looked at how trade marks could be used to digitally record supply chain events contributing to provenance. To prove this concept was viable we piloted our platform with two industry leading local producers.

With the worldwide sales of counterfeit goods exceeding US$1.5 trillion per year, the ‘Smart Trade Mark’ concept is a project we will continue to explore.

" Using 3D printing, UNYQ has been able to redefine not only how these devices are created, but also to create an aesthetically beautiful yet practical end product"

The potential of ‘Smart Trade Mark’ could allow our customers to use their trade mark certification to validate their products, whether that is in Australia, at any stage during the supply chain (in Australia or overseas) or in an online store. However, these are just early concepts for ‘Smart IP Rights’ and its use will most likely evolve over time as the concepts begin to mature. As digital marketplaces continue to rise in popularity, we see this initiative becoming more significant.

Clean sweeping the State Digital iAwards, (taking out three awards) this capability helps IP Australia provide a platform for services that we may deliver in the future. With this project we are currently looking for partners to help develop our connected services specifically where IP rights are being used online.

TM Assist

Keeping with the theme of helping Australian businesses and innovators, last year we introduced Trade Mark Assist. This tool makes it easier for everyone, from individual innovators to businesses, to better apply for a trade mark and secure their brand name.

Trade Mark Assist helps users check whether their proposed trade mark complies with relevant requirements and is a strong candidate for registration. It also helps them identify relevant goods or services classes in which they may wish to register their trade mark. Using leading machine learning algorithms, Trade Mark Assist makes the process of applying for a trade mark much easier.

Trade Mark Assist has helped over 41,000 customers, increasing successful applications by 18 per cent. This has led to over 90 percent satisfaction with Trade Mark Assist’s user experience.

Australian Trade Mark Search

In partnership with then local start-up Trademark Vision, we explored the possibilities of AI and advanced machine learning in combination with Australia’s trade mark database. This led to Australian Trade Mark Search.

The decision to transform the old trade mark search system gave us the opportunity to adopt industry-leading practices and become one of the first IP offices in the world to integrate trade mark image recognition and search technology. We consider Australian Trade Mark Search to be the best trade mark search system globally and plan to explore overhauling other IP search systems in the very near future.

The search system’s success can be measured by its popularity, with over 1 million page views from over 40,000 customers each month. Australian Trade Mark Search is a key pillar that has helped IP Australia become recognised by World Trade Mark Review as the intellectual office most liked by trade mark practitioners around the world.


A few years ago we took the innovative step for a government agency and IP office by launching our virtual assistant (VA), Alex. Alex has supported us to become one of the first fully digital federal government agencies.

Alex has been in place since 2016 and now handles 38 per cent of all enquiries made to IP Australia with a first contact resolution rate of 82 per cent. Alex continues to be a foundational piece enabling customers to transact digitally 24/7 at a time convenient to them, reducing contact centre channel by approximately 60 per cent. To date, Alex has successfully serviced well over 100,000 customers while continuing to maintain IP Australia’s impressive 84 per cent satisfaction rate.

We are proud that our implementation of Alex was recognised with a number of awards including the Australian National Archives Award for Digital Excellence and a Silver Stevie Award for Innovation in Technology Development in 2017 at the Annual Intelligent Assistant Awards in San Francisco, USA.

IP Folio

To help Australian businesses and innovators interact with IP on their terms, we also developed IP Australia’s first fully mobile app, IP Folio. The app is the first customer-focussed mobile app to be developed by any IP office globally.

The app is effectively a digital wallet for IP rights and allows a customer to monitor the progress of a trade mark application, receive notifications of key status changes to a trade mark, and ‘watch’ or ‘favourite’ selected trade marks. We have adopted an agile approach with delivery focussing on trade marks capability first as around 60 per cent of trade mark applicants are Australian small business or innovators who have never navigated the IP system.

The app represents a prime example of the next generation of digital services coming out of the Australian government: data-rich, real-time and mobile-first. Development now includes the addition of patents functionality and android compatibility.

Support for Australian businesses and innovators continue to be a driving force for what we do at IP Australia. As a fully digital agency processing almost one million transactions and $210 million in revenue, we have a strong platform to reimagine new ways to service our customers and their future needs.

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