Eligibility requirements

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Before applying to become a registered patent attorney, make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria.

At a glance

  • Hold appropriate academic qualifications
  • Demonstrate IP knowledge, including patent law and practice
  • Show at least two years experience in patents work
  • Demonstrate good integrity and character

Academic qualifications

To register, you need to have a qualification in a field of science or technology that contains potentially patentable subject matter. You also must have studied the potentially patentable subject matter in sufficient depth.

Your qualification must be at least level 5 (diploma level) under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) or the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). You can also apply if you have an overseas qualification at an equivalent level.

What kinds of qualifications are acceptable?

A patent attorney needs to understand the inventions their clients are trying to protect. Therefore, you need to have studied one of the many fields of science or technology that contain inventions which can be patented.

The Board decides whether your qualification is appropriate.

Disciplines that typically include patentable subject matter include:

  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Chemical engineering
  • Applied physics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Mechatronics
  • Electronics
  • Computer engineering.

Not all fields of science and technology contain patentable subject matter. Some qualifications may be in a field that doesn't always involve patentable subject matter, such as a qualification in computer science where only software engineering is studied, or some qualifications in theoretical physics.

For more information on patentable subject matter, visit the IP Australia and IPONZ websites.


How much breadth and depth of study is required?

Along with covering the appropriate subject matter, you need to have studied it in sufficient breadth and depth.

Breadth — typically achieved by studying a significant number of subjects in the relevant field in the early years of a degree.

Depth — usually met by six successive semesters of study, with subjects that increase in complexity. This can typically be achieved by a major in a bachelor's degree.

Your qualifications may not be acceptable if your subject matter study was narrow or if your studies did not cover sufficiently advanced topics. This can sometimes happen if you studied a combined degree.

Knowledge requirements

You will need to demonstrate that you have the knowledge of Australian and New Zealand intellectual property law and practice required to practise as a patent attorney.

This includes an appropriate level of:

  • Knowledge in order to give advice about applicable categories of protection for particular activities
  • Appreciation of the advantages of each form of protection for a client
  • Understanding how to get and maintain appropriate protection for a client
  • Understanding the required standard of professional conduct.

You can meet the knowledge requirements by:

  • Satisfactorily completing Board accredited courses of study within the past 10 years
  • Gaining an exemption for one or more courses of study within the past 5 years.

This involves:

  • Providing proof of completing accredited courses of study
  • Providing detailed information about non-accredited courses you have completed that cover the required content.

The Board has established a curriculum of studies that meets the minimum knowledge requirements according to the Patents Regulations 1991.

The curriculum consists of nine topic groups. Each group covers content that provides an appropriate level of understanding of a specific area. Together, they cover all the content required to prepare students to practise as patent attorneys.

The topic groups are:

A1 - Legal Process and A2 - Overview of Intellectual Property

Australian and New Zealand legal systems and how intellectual property rights may be protected.

B - Professional Conduct

Rights, privileges and responsibilities of a patent attorney.

C - Trade Mark Law

Principles of trade marks and the trade marks system in Australia and New Zealand.

D - Trade Marks Practice

Prosecution and maintenance of trade marks applications in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

E - Patent Law

Principles of patents and the patent systems in Australia and New Zealand.

F - Patent System

Prosecution and maintenance of patent applications in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

G - Drafting Patent Specifications

How to find relevant information and draft a specification to accompany various types of patent applications.

H - Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications

Interpretation of patent specifications to advise on infringement, validity and grounds of revocation and amendment.

I - Designs Law and Practice

Prosecution and maintenance of design applications in Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

The following universities currently offer Board accredited courses:

  • University of Auckland
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
  • Victoria University of Wellington (VUW)

Accredited courses are valid for 10 years from the date of completion. The Board cannot approve knowledge requirements based on accredited courses which were completed more than 10 years ago.

Australia

University of Melbourne

Topic Group(s) Currently offered courses Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process and
A2: Overview of IP
Australian Legal Process and Legal Institutions [ALPLI] or Fundamental of Common Law [LAWS70217]

AND

Overview of Intellectual Property (OIP) or Fundamentals of Intellectual Property [LAWS90125]
7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025
B: Professional Conduct and
D: Trade Marks Practice
Trade Marks Practice [LAWS90035] 7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025
C: Trade Marks Law Trade Marks and Unfair Competition [LAWS70046] 7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025
E: Patent Law Patent Law [LAWS70021] 7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025
F: Patent System Patent Practice [LAWS70060] 7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025
G: Drafting of Patent Specifications Fundamentals of Patent Drafting [LAWS70387] 16 November 2018  - 
16 November 2023
H: Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications [LAWS70061] 7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025
I: Designs Law Designs Law and Practice [LAWS70261] 7 April 2020  - 
7 April 2025

 

University of Technology, Sydney

Topic Group(s) Currently offered courses Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process and
A2: Overview of IP and
B: Professional Conduct
Preparing for Intellectual Property Practice [77905] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
C: Trade Marks Law Trade Marks Law [77889] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
D: Trade Marks Practice Trade Marks Practice [77890] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
E: Patent Law Patent Law [77898] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
F: Patent System Patent Systems [77891] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
G: Drafting of Patent Specifications Drafting of Patent Specifications [77894] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
H: Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications [77895] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023
I: Designs Law Designs Law and Practice [77893] 23 March 2018  -  23 March 2023

 

New Zealand

University of Auckland

Topic Group(s) Currently offered courses
Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process and
A2: Overview of IP and
B: Professional Conduct
Intellectual Property and Practice [LAWCOMM 772] 18 November 2021  - 
18 November 2026
C: Trade Marks Law Trade Marks and Related Rights [LAWCOMM 796] 18 November 2021  - 
18 November 2026

 

Victoria University of Wellington

Topic Group(s) Currently offered courses Accredited dates
E: Patent Law Patent Law [LAWS 537] 7 July 2017  - 
7 July 2022
I:  Designs Law New Zealand and Australian Copyright & Designs Law [LAWS 530]
23 March 2017  - 
23 March 2023

 

Previously offered accredited courses

The following universities previously offered Board accredited courses:

  • Monash University
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

These accredited courses are valid for 10 years from the date of completion. You need to have completed the courses within the indicated timeframes stated to gain approval of knowledge requirement.

Victoria University of Wellington

Topic Group(s) Previously offered courses Accredited dates
A2: Overview of IP New Zealand and Australian Intellectual Property Law [LAWS 551] 5 Jan 2017  - 
5 Jan 2022
C: Trade Marks Law Trade Mark Law and Unfair Competition [LAWS 536] 5 Jan 2017  - 
5 Jan 2022

 

Monash University

Topic Group(s) Previously offered courses Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process LAW5080  - Australian Legal System 9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
A1: Legal Process and
B: Professional Conduct
LAW7212 - Legal Process and Professional Conduct 1 July 2011  - 
1 July 2016
A2: Overview of IP LAW75340  - Intellectual Property
9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
B: Professional Conduct LAW5341 - Trade Mark Practice
9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
C: Trade Marks Law LAW5316 - Trade Marks and Commercial Designations
9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
D: Trade Marks Practice LAW5341 - Trade Mark Practice or LAW7224 - Trade Mark Practice
9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
E: Patent Law LAW5321 - Protecting Commercial Innovation patents and trade Secrets
9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
F: Patent System LAW7452 - Patent Practice 25 November 2011  - 
25 November 2016
G: Drafting of Patent Specifications LAW7465 - Drafting Patent Specifications  25 November 2011  - 
25 November 2016
H: Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications LAW7466 - Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications  25 November 2011  - 
25 November 2016
I: Designs Law LAW5346 - Design Law and Practice 13 November 2015  - 
13 November 2020

 

Queensland University of Technology

Topic Group(s) Previously offered courses Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process and
A2: Overview of IP
LWN401 - General Introduction to Intellectual Property Law 18 September 2013  -  21 March 2024
C: Trade Marks Law LWN404 - Trade Marks, Domain Names and Geographical Indications 18 September 2013  -  21 March 2024
D: Trade Marks Practice LWN409 Trade Marks Practice 16 November 2018  -  16 November 2023
E: Patent Law LWN402 - Patents and Biotechnological Interventions 18 September 2013  -  21 March 2024
F: Patent System LWN410 - Patent Systems 16 November 2018  -  16 November 2023
I: Designs Law LWN405 - Industrial Design and Plant Variety Protection 27 February 15  - 
27 February 2020

 

University of Melbourne

Topic Group(s) Previously offered courses Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process and
A2: Overview of IP
Australian Legal Process and Legal Institutions [LAW7212]
OR
Fundamentals of Common Law [LAWS70217]
OR
Fundamentals of the Common Law – Int [LAWS70256]

AND

Overview of Intellectual Property
9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025
B: Professional Conduct and
D: Trade Marks Practice
Trade Marks Practice [LAWS90035] 27 February 2015 -  27 February 2020
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025
C: Trade Marks Law
Trade Marks and Unfair Competition [LAWS70046] 9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025
E: Patent Law
Patent Law [LAWS70021] 9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025
F: Patent System
Patent Practice [LAWS70060] 9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025
G: Drafting of Patent Specifications
Fundamentals of Patent Drafting [LAWS70387] 1 July 2011  - 
1 July 2016
and
16 November 2018  -  16 November 2023
H: Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specification
Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications [LAWS70061] 9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025
I: Designs Law
Designs Law and Practice [LAWS70261] 9 September 2014  -  1 December 2019
and
7 April 2020 - 
7 April 2025

 

University of Technology, Sydney

Topic Group(s) Previously offered courses Accredited dates
A1: Legal Process and
A2: Overview of IP and
B: Professional Conduct
Legal Process and Intellectual Property [77896]
AND
Professional Conduct (IP) [77892]

OR

Preparing for Intellectual Property [77905]
1 Dec 2011  - 
1 Dec 2015



17 June 2015  - 
17 June 2021
C: Trade Marks Law Trade Marks Law [77889] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021
D: Trade Marks Practice Trade Marks Practice [77890] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021
E: Patent Law Patent Law [77898] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021
F: Patent System Patent Systems [77891] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021
G: Drafting of Patent Specifications Drafting of Patent Specifications [77894] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021
H: Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications Interpretation and Validity of Patent Specifications [77895] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021
I: Designs Law Designs Law and Practice [77893] 17 June 2015 - 
17 June 2021

You can apply for an exemption if you have completed a non-accredited course of study within the last 10 years.

To approve an exemption, the Board must be satisfied that:

  • you passed the course
  • the course has outcomes that are the same as, or similar to, an accredited course.

To check whether your course has similar outcomes to an accredited course, you can compare it to the Board’s curriculum of studies.

Please note that exemptions must be based on an academic course. The Board cannot take work experience into consideration for an exemption application.

If your application is approved, your exemption will be valid for 5 years.

Minor shortcomings

The Board will consider an exemption even if the course has not covered all the material in the curriculum. However, it will not consider an application if there are significant gaps, or where an important topic has not been covered.

An exemption can also be based on multiple courses if together they cover the relevant material.

Older courses

The Board will normally only approve courses completed within the last 7 years. The Board cannot grant exemptions for courses older than 10 years.

Courses between 7-10 years old will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Board will not grant an exemption if the course content is no longer current. This includes when the law or relevant practices have changed significantly. This is less likely for topic groups where the content does not change much over time, such as knowledge of legal processes.

International qualifications

Exemptions may be granted based on courses completed in countries other than Australia or New Zealand. This is most likely for topic groups A1, A2 and B where the law and the legal institutions studied are similar to Australia and New Zealand.

Subjects like Patent Law and Trade Marks Law require substantial Australian and New Zealand content. It is unlikely that exemptions would be approved for these topic groups based on international qualifications.

How to apply

To apply for an exemption, you will need to download and complete the relevant form:

You will also need to provide:

  • a certified copy, or a link, to the official academic transcript for the course(s) the exemption is based on.
  • supporting evidence such as course outlines from the year you studied the course(s).

Detailed information about supporting documentation can be found in the relevant form.

Cut-off for applications is 6 weeks prior to a Board meeting. If you miss the submission deadline, your application will be submitted to the following meeting.

Please attach each application into a single email and send
to mail.ttipab@ipaustralia.gov.au.

View cut-off dates for Board meetings

Employment requirements

To become a registered patent attorney, you must have gained sufficient practical experience doing patents work.

You need to have been employed in one or more positions that have provided you with sufficient experience in the following skills:

  • Searching patent records
  • Preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications in Australia and New Zealand
  • Preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications in other jurisdictions
  • Drafting patent specifications
  • Providing advice on the interpretation, validity and infringement of patents.

Your relevant employment must have been for at least either:

  • Two continuous years
  • Or a total of two years within five continuous years.

During your employment you must have been located in Australia and/or New Zealand.

To establish that you have sufficient practical experience, you will need to submit one or more statements of skill.

A statement of skill is a declaration from an experienced patent attorney who has supervised your work. The patent attorney describes why, in their opinion, you have the necessary experience in one or more of the five required skills listed above.

The purpose is to demonstrate that you have met the employment requirements and have the necessary practical experience and skills to practise as a patent attorney.

Who can provide a statement of skill

The statement must be provided by a patent attorney who has been a registered trans-Tasman patent attorney for at least five years.

You can provide multiple statements of skills from multiple patent attorneys, which is useful if you have had multiple supervisors or employers. The statements can be separate or the supervisors can collate their observations into a single statement.

If you are unable to obtain a statement of skill from a registered patent attorney, you can request that the Board provide one for you. You can do this by providing a declaration to the Board explaining your situation and why you can’t obtain a statement. The Board may agree to assess a declaration and portfolio of work and provide a statement of skill on your behalf.

The Board will not prepare a statement of skill if you have never been employed under the supervision of a registered patent attorney.

What to include

Your statement of skill should include:

  • An explanation of why the registered patent attorney can comment on your experience
  • Details of the duration and nature of your employment
  • A description of the type of work you performed
  • Confirmation that the registered patent attorney believes you have experience in one or more of the five required skills
  • A detailed explanation (including examples) supporting the registered patent attorney's opinion
  • A description of other skills you have gained, such as opposition procedures, IP portfolio management, and practice management.

Key points

  • You need to have significant experience preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications in both Australia and New Zealand.
  • If you haven't gained experience providing patent services to clients while supervised by a patent attorney you are unlikely to be able to meet all of the requirements. Some of the skills, such as searching, could be gained partly through related roles such as IP portfolio manager. However, services that patent attorneys provide to clients is the focus of the five skills.
  • Your statement of skill needs to provide sufficient examples to show you have sufficient experience in the each of the skills. One or two examples against each of the five skills is unlikely to be sufficient.

You can find detailed instructions on how to complete a statement of skill in the template below.

Once completed, please submit the statement of skill by email to

mail.ttipab@ipaustralia.gov.au.

Personal requirements

To become a registered patent attorney, you must:

  • Be of good fame, integrity and character
  • Not have been convicted of a prescribed offence during the past five years
  • Not be under a sentence of imprisonment for a prescribed offence.

To demonstrate that you fulfil these requirements, you will need to provide:

  • A self-declaration regarding the offences
  • A declaration by another person regarding your good fame, integrity and character.

These requirements, including the prescribed offences, are described in regulation 20.3 of the Patents Regulations 1991.