[Linux-aus] Hooks to the AU patent process

Arjen Lentz arjen at mysql.com
Wed Aug 4 07:51:02 UTC 2004

Ok, lots of this will of course change with the FTA, but one nice thing
about Australia is that lots of government stuff is actually available
online and functional. We may have some gripes about specific issues but
trust me, AU is way ahead of many other countries with this. And in this
case, that is very beneficial to us as it makes access easier and more
widely available.

Australian patents are administered by the Patent Office of IP
Australia, a Federal Government organisation.
Main website: http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/

There are two types of patents in Australia:
 - a standard patent gives long-term protection and control
   over an invention for up to 20 years.
 - an innovation patent is a relatively fast, inexpensive
   protection option, lasting a maximum of 8 years.


FILING - This is the act of making an application. When the application
is first filed certain details are published.

Few applications are approved in their initial form.


Publication of your unexamined standard application (level AU-A) occurs
about 18 months after your application's earliest priority date in the
Australian Official Journal of Patents (AOJP). Published patent
specifications are made available to the public and are sent to certain
libraries and overseas patent offices. 

Innovation patents are published at grant which generally occurs shortly
after filing. This means that the contents of your patent specification
are no longer confidential.

It also means that you can take action if someone uses your invention
without your permission. Once we have granted a standard patent or
certified an innovation patent, you may be entitled to take legal action
for any infringements that occurred from the date we published your

Acceptance, opposition and grant

After the publication of acceptance of your standard patent application,
others then have 3 months to start proceedings to show that your patent,
if granted, would be invalid. However, less than 2% of accepted
applications are opposed.

If your standard patent application is not opposed, we will seal it and
send the patent certificate to you after the end of the opposition

Australian Official Journal of Patents


(this is what we need to start tracking)

Search the patents databases


Looking at the latest supplement (27 July), the first item is already
one that we can somewhat relate to. It's a decision to an opposition.
The patent was by Sabre Inc.
Opposition by Amadeus Global Travel Distribution SA
Abstract Invention relating to a system for corporate travel planning,
expense reporting and management which provides, in conjunction with
other functionality, facilities for a corporate traveler to directly
book travel in a Computerised Reservation System (CRS) and have that
reservation communicated to a travel agency for post reservation
processing including ticketing.

Found that, in general, the 101 claims, including 16 independent claims
and dependant claim groups and 9 omnibus claims, did not define the
invention and were not otherwise clear and succinct. The description,
while somewhat sparse on details to support implementation of the
invention by a skilled addressee, was however not considered to have
clearly failed to fully describe the invention - Kimberly-Clark
Australia Pty Ltd v Arico Trading International Pty Ltd [2001] HCA 8 and
Valensi v British Radio Corporation Limited (1973) RPC 337 applied.

The invention claimed was further found not to be novel in light of
information made publicly available through promotion and sales of the
TravelTrack travel management system in Australia before the priority
So, byebye patent application, prior art prevails.

Oeh hang on, here's more in this latest supplement PDF, just spotted:

- AU-A-2003290705, 2003290705, 07.11.2003
- AU-A-2003293338, 2003293338, 26.11.2003

Now these are under the heading "open for inspection". So let's see if
we can find the actual application texts...

Patsearch (PAMS online) Database

This database contains bibliographic information about innovation patent
applications filed from 24 May 2001 and all new standard complete,
provisional and innovation patent applications filed after the
implementation of NPS Release 2.1 on 5 July 2002. These applications
have the number format CCYYNNNNNN where C=Century, Y=Year and
N=application number. The 5th character also denotes application type
i.e. 1 = Innovation, 9 = Provisional and any other number 2,3 etc =
Standard Complete e.g. 2003100001 is an Innovation Patent filed in 2003.

(we need what they call the "concordance search" as we want to find
applications purely on their number with no additional info)


For the first one above, the number is 2003290705.
Not a problem, found!


Navigating this method seems a bit murky, too much typing and copying.

Another route is via

where you enter the number in the top box.

Then you can view the original paper application in PDF (so it'll
include any drawings, etc). For this one, I end up at

Reading that nice 1-page document (phew, most are much longer!) and with
a wink to our good friends at HP, I think this particular application is
of the typical c"omplete bollocks" kind. Have a look for yourself.

We have to realise that many of our big corporate OSS friends are
patent-fanatics, they file zillions of them and it's not surprising that
I happened to stumble aross some when I just grabbed an item from the
latest supplement.

The patent opposition info PDF:
and same for innovation patents:

The snag is that the process costs...

To oppose you need to jump some hoops, and if you lose you pay all the
costs. So that's not good.
>From this, it appears that the system works in favour of the applicant,
particularly large corporates, and mostly relies on the examination
process for its quality control. (please note that this is talking about
our CURRENT system!)
As we know that part of the process is broken with the US system, and in
come more piles of nonsense.

But we can still use all this, if we inventorise and categorise all
relevant applications. This makes things much more transparent and
visible for media and politicians. We can point out specific problems
using real examples. That's always better than generics.
Basically, I am suggesting, and I think this jives with what Pia was
aiming for, that we vigorously expose it all. Starting NOW. It is in
fact a pity we didn't start it before....

Also, we have "friends" at IP Australia. Developers from there have been
at the Linux confs in the past. We may be able to get some assistance in
making sense of all this.

Arjen Lentz, Technical Writer, Trainer
Brisbane, QLD Australia
MySQL AB, www.mysql.com

Brisbane 22 Nov 2004 (5 days): Using & Managing MySQL Training
Training,Support,Licenses,T-shirts @ https://order.mysql.com/?ref=marl

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