There is no doubt China is a powerhouse of innovation, leading the world in many fields of emerging technology. As Chinese companies are increasingly looking to protect their IP outside of China, the US and Europe are top destinations for filing patents overseas, but many Chinese companies have overlooked the advantages to filing in Australia.
Australia is one of the fastest growing developed countries. It has the world’s 13th largest economy by GDP. It also has the world’s second highest GDP per capita (after the USA) among countries with a population in excess of 10 million. Australia has strong trade links with China owing to geographical proximity, a large local Australian Chinese population and a strong mining and resources industry. Furthermore, Australia has a young and growing population and high consumer spending. Australia is therefore a target destination for many Chinese businesses.
Australia is also one of the most innovative countries in the world, with a highly skilled workforce and a passion for new technology. Scientific research institutions in Australia rank in the top 1% globally in a range of fields including aerospace technology, computer science, clinical medicine and genetics.
Australia is a cost-effective country, with the ability to use any English translation which may have already been prepared for the US. The official fees in Australia are also very reasonable – only one quarter of those charged by the European Patent Office.
Further, Australia has a very flexible patent system. It is easy to accelerate or delay prosecution depending on the client’s needs and there are very few restrictions on filing divisional applications. If desired, grant can be achieved more quickly in Australia than most other countries.
There is a well-established and reliable legal system. Australia is commonly used as a ligation venue in world-wide disputes, including the patent wars between Apple and Samsung.
While Australia has a vibrant market which uses all areas of technology, we suggest that particular consideration is given to filing Australian patents in the following areas:
Australia has a very strong mining industry and the world’s second highest mineral production value, second only to China. Australia’s mineral resources include not only iron, aluminium and uranium, but also lithium and cobalt which are of increasing importance for electric vehicles. Large mining companies have extensive operations in Australia and this creates a significant market, not only for mining processes, but also associated technologies, such as trucks, diggers, drills, drones, surveying equipment, sensors, Internet of Things (IOT) and autonomous driving.
Australia has a strong medical device sector, with healthcare spending per capita being extremely high. This makes Australia an attractive jurisdiction for medical patents and most large medical device manufacturers file in Australia. There is also increasing research interest into digital technology and AI for health applications and strong clinical trial capabilities.
The Australian government provides many subsidies in this area. Australia is a sunny country with vast potential for increased solar energy usage, especially as most Australians live in houses with solar panels, which lays the foundation for solar energy. Australia also has abundant wind resources and generates approximately 10% of its electricity from wind turbines, making it one of the larger developed markets for wind power.
The logistics and mining industries are quickly adopting these technologies and there is a strong consumer market for cars. Australia already uses more autonomous vehicles on mine sites than any other country and due to the long distances involved, we expect that the logistics and trucking industries will quickly follow once regulation is in place. While electric vehicles (EV) have a relatively low adoption, we expect this to improve over time due to the strong market for new cars and government targets on carbon emissions.
It is common for computing data centres to be hosted in the cloud in Australia due to its geographical location and large distances from other countries.
As mentioned above, Australia has a high GDP per capita and Australian consumers are relatively wealthy and early adopters of new electronic products. As a result, Australia is a good market for high end consumer electronics and was chosen as one of the venues of litigation in the smart-phone wars between Apple and Samsung.
Australia has a large Chinese population, most of whom use WeChat and other Chinese apps. Many Australian merchants provide payment options for Chinese online payment apps, such as WeChat Pay and Aliay. Australia is also home to a thriving video game industry.