Australian Intellectual Property Reforms Ahead

March 15th, 2024

Australian Intellectual Property Reforms Ahead


2024 appears to be a year of change in the Australian Intellectual Property realm, with the adoption by IP Australia of the Madrid Goods and Services List and the introduction of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Regulator Performance) Act 2023.

Adoption of the Madrid Goods and Services List

In January 2024 IP Australia announced that it would replace the current Trade Marks Goods and Services List with the Madrid Goods and Services List (MGS list) in March 2024. This change will align IP Australia’s classification of goods and services for trade mark applications with international best practices, and the standards used by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The real difference between the two Lists is that in Australia under the Trade Marks Goods and Services List, a trade mark applicant can register a trade mark with a broader meaning, for example registering a trade mark under the current ‘Wholesale Services’ category. However, under the MGS list, the registration will need to be more specific, with registrations under the Wholesale Services list to be instead “Wholesale services in relation to [list of goods]”. This means that it will be more important for owners of Australian trade marks to ensure that their trade mark applications are drafted correctly to ensure that the trade mark covers all of the goods and services they use, or intend to use.

Importantly, the changes in classification will likely make it easier for Australian exporters to protect their trade marks in other countries because the way the goods will be described will be consistent with those accepted by the Madrid Goods and Services List.

The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Regulator Performance) Act 2023

In late 2023, the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Regulator Performance) Act 2023 (the Act) received Royal Assent, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of Australia’s intellectual property landscape. This comprehensive legislative reform, with amendments commencing at various intervals, focuses on refining and enhancing processes related to trade marks, patents, and the protection of Olympic insignia. The Act aims to streamline administrative procedures, fortify legal frameworks, and ensure robust intellectual property protection.

Amending the Olympic Insignia Protection Act, Trade Marks Act and Patents Act

The Act introduces amendments to three crucial pieces of legislation; the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987, Trade Marks Act 1995, and Patents Act 1990. These amendments are organised into six distinct parts, each addressing specific aspects of intellectual property law.

Part 1 – Trade marks that contain, or consist of, Olympic motto, etc.

Part 1 of the Act clarifies that only the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are authorised to register Olympic insignia as trade marks in Australia.

The amendments reinforce the government’s authority to reject trade mark applications not filed by the AOC or IOC, enhancing the protection of the Olympic brand.

Part 2 – Renewal of registration 

Part 2 of the Act addresses minor inconsistencies in trade mark renewal grace period conditions. By aligning these conditions, the legislation ensures a more consistent and streamlined process for the renewal of trade mark registrations.

Part 3 – Revocation of registration

Part 3 of the Act introduces a requirement for the revocation of a trade mark registration if IP Australia overlooks a component of a notice of opposition by a third party during the registration process. This amendment bolsters the integrity of the registration process and addresses potential oversights in the opposition procedure.

Part 4 – Restoration of trade marks to the Register

Part 4 of the Act allows, under specific circumstances, the restoration of a trade mark registration onto the Trade Marks Register after it is removed due to non-use. This provision provides flexibility in cases where a trade mark’s removal was unjustified, ensuring fair treatment for intellectual property owners.

Part 5 – Official Journal, etc.

This section removes direct references to the Official Journal of Trade Marks, allowing the government to adapt the format used to communicate trade mark decisions to changing technologies and customer behaviour. This amendment reflects a commitment to staying agile and responsive in the digital age.

Part 6 – Spent Provisions

Part 6 repeals transitional and saving provisions in the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) that expired in February 2022. This procedural change has no impact on the administration of Australia’s patent system but serves to streamline the legislative framework.

Corresponding changes to regulations 

The Act anticipates corresponding changes to the Trade Mark Regulations and Patents Regulations, with the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Regulator Performance) Regulations expected to be in place by 17 May 2024 to support and complement the changes made by the Act. These regulatory adjustments aim to provide a harmonious and integrated legal framework for the effective implementation of the legislative reforms.


The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Regulator Performance) Act 2023 represents a forward-looking approach to intellectual property regulation in Australia. By addressing specific challenges in trade mark and patent administration and refining the protection of Olympic insignia, the Act contributes to a more robust and responsive intellectual property regime. As the corresponding regulations are set to fall into place, stakeholders in the intellectual property space can anticipate a more streamlined and efficient landscape for the protection and administration of intellectual assets.

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