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The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has tabled a review of Australia’s patent system for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in an effort to encourage innovation across multiple industries.

Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies have continued to push for innovation, with many categorised as SMEs.

The Department commissioned Emeritus Professor Raoul Mortley to review Australia’s patent system.

According to the review, small inventors need commercialisation and patenting advice, a fear of litigation costs are pushing people away from the patenting system and the export of intellectual property by Australian SMEs is crucial for the country.

Mortley said further government outreach was needed to engage with SMEs and showcase the patenting system.

The Patents Accessibility Review contained 16 recommendations and conducted more than 50 interviews with stakeholders including SMEs, universities, industry peak bodies and patent attorneys.

Recommendation 16 involved the development an intellectual property audit that allows a patent attorney to seek out SME inventions in need of patenting advice or commercialisation.

This was due to the success of a patent attorney at a regional university in reporting patentable inventions that university staff had no awareness of.

“How many times could this situation be repeated in Australia’s 43 universities? Or engineering businesses, or mining companies, or mining suppliers? Or in agribusiness? Is there a general understanding of what is patentable and what is not?” the recommendation stated.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said the government was committed to ensuring Australia’s intellectual property framework is supported.

“SMEs make up 99 per cent of all Australian businesses, and we know the history and potential for great ideas and inventions among small Australian companies, so it is essential that we ensure their intellectual property can be safeguarded through patenting,” he said.

“I would like to thank Professor Mortley for his efforts in this review, and the Government is carefully considering the recommendations from his report.”