Falling under the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, IP Australia administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, registered designs, and plant breeders' rights in Australia. The agency was stood up in 1904 as the Australian Patent Office. Despite its age, IP Australia started down its digital transformation path a lot earlier than its other government peers, even before the Digital Transformation Office cum Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) was formed. The government entity went from having around 12 percent digital transactions available in 2012 to 99.6 percent currently, and is now working on bringing the last possible 0.2 percent online. Speaking at Criterion Conferences' Improving the Customer Experience across Government event in Sydney on Tuesday, IP Australia director of Digital Services, Innovation and Technology Craig Stokes said that despite the abundance of digital transactions available, there is still a call centre, and it is vitally important to the business.
Australia's Parliament has passed the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, with the federal government saying it will enable rights holders to better fight copyright infringement. The Australian government introduced the new legislation in October, proposing to expand piracy site-block laws from carriage service providers to online search engine providers. The Bill will also allow faster blocks of mirror sites, reduce the burden of proving that a site is hosted outside of Australia, and expand the legislation to sites that not only have the "primary purpose", but also to those that have the "primary effect" of infringing copyright. "The government has zero tolerance for online piracy. It is theft, and damaging to our creative economy and local creators. We are committed to protecting Australia's creative industries and the world-class content we produce every year," Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said.
A Senate committee has recommended that Parliament pass Australia's new intellectual property (IP) laws in a bid to promote and incentivise "investment in creativity, innovation, research, and technology". The Senate Economics Legislation Committee's report said the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 1 and Other Measures) Bill 2018 [PDF] will phase out the innovation patent system, as well as allowing for automated decision-making on patents. "Schedule 2 consists of 21 parts which implement a number of measures to streamline and align the administration of the Australian IP system," the report says. "Schedule 2: Part 5 amends the Patents Act, Designs Act, PBR Act, and Trade Marks Act to enable the commissioner and the registrars to arrange for a computer program under their control to make decisions, exercise powers, and comply with obligations under the legislation." Under the Bill, the registrar may "arrange for the use, under the registrar's control, of computer programs for any purposes for which the registrar may, or must, under this Act or the regulations: make a decision; or exercise any power or comply with any obligation; or do anything else related to making a decision".
Rob Bollard, CIO at IP Australia, the government's intellectual property department, is proud to say that he heads up Australia's first fully digital service delivery agency. In just the space of four years, IP Australia has gone from receiving just 12% of its IP applications online – the rest coming through on paper – to now receiving 99.6% through digital channels. Not only his, but Bollard is overseeing the decommissioning of old systems, a move to the cloud, has implemented agile working, created a DevOps environment that focuses on continuous delivery, ensures systems are designed with the user in mind, and is even deploying AI technologies to improve experiences for employees and citizens. I got the chance to sit down with Bollard at Pega's annual user event in Las Vegas this week, as IP Australia has implemented the Pega platform as its case management system. Our vision is really to become a world-class IP office and to try to support the prosperity of Australians in the system.
IP Australia has furthered its partnership with US-based software vendor Pegasystems, adopting the company's Pega Robotic Automation solution in a bid to improve customer experience by automating its business processes. The agency, which is part of the federal government's Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, is hoping to significantly reduce time and costs associated with data entry with its new technology. IP Australia administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, registered designs, and plant breeder's rights in Australia. It processes approximately 850,000 IP service requests per year, including more than 160,000 new applications for IP rights. With so much data generated and stored, the agency over time deployed multiple processes and disparate systems to help its staff handle its growing work volume.
Currently, IP Australia's online virtual assistant powered by Nuance's Nina technology delivers a dynamic and engaging customer experience that lets customers easily understand trademark, patent, designs and plant breeder's rights processes. The human elements of dialogue and personalised interaction connect customers to the right information and tools, which translates into immediate, easy and effective self-servicing and increased customer satisfaction. At present, Alex is capable of answering IP rights questions in layman's terms, minimising customer confusion and maximising successful first-time transactions.