15 January 2021

How Up-to-Date is IP Australia’s AusPat Data?

SearchingOne of the great resources provided by IP Australia is its AusPat online patent data service.  AusPat enables users to search for Australian patents and applications using a range of options and search fields, view numerous data items for each application, and access most incoming and outgoing correspondence via eDossier.  In my view, it is one of the best available systems for online access of national patent data.  For example, in comparison with the USPTO’s services, AusPat effectively combines the functionality of the US Patent Full-Text Databases, the Public Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system, and the Patent Assignment Search system, into a single convenient and powerful interface.  And while Australian patent information ultimately finds its way into various other public and proprietary databases, AusPat is the first place that any new filings, changes, or events will be reflected.  It is, therefore, the go-to source for the most up-to-date data on all Australian patents and applications.  I rely heavily upon AusPat for much of the analysis I present on this blog, including the regular updates I have been providing over the past few months on patent filings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing that other users may be wondering is: exactly how up-to-date is the data available in AusPat?  You might think that with almost all filing and other transactions now being conducted electronically, the consequences of any new applicant actions would be reflected immediately in AusPat.  However, that is not quite correct.

What Appears in AusPat, and When?

The first thing to appreciate is that AusPat is not a ‘window’ into IP Australia’s live data.  It is a publicly-accessible copy of selected information that is extracted from the live records.  It is my understanding that, when all of the systems are functioning correctly (which is almost all of the time) this extraction occurs overnight, and the information available in AusPat thus reflects (at best) the state of the patent office records at the close of activity on the previous business day.  It is, for example, therefore pointless to access the same AusPat records multiple times during a single day in the hope of seeing any changes.

On top of this, however, it is my experience that there can be additional delays between filings at IP Australia, and the corresponding data becoming available via AusPat.  In particular, delays between the filing of a new patent application, and full information about that application becoming accessible in AusPat may (currently) exceed two weeks.  This is something that anyone attempting to use AusPat to track new filings needs to be aware of.

Although applicants (or, more commonly, their patent attorneys) now provide all required application information and documents electronically, avoiding the need for manual data entry within IP Australia, this information is not always made immediately available within AusPat.  In Australia, bibliographic information – including application title, applicant and inventor names, priority data, agent/attorney details, and filing dates – is made publicly available even for unpublished applications (including provisional applications).  In most cases, most of this information becomes available in AusPat on the following day.  However, there are some notable exceptions:

  1. applicant and agent/attorney (‘address for service’) details are not typically available until IP Australia has completed its processing of the new application, which currently seems to be taking around two weeks; and
  2. in some cases, no details of a new application appear in AusPat until a later date.

For example, on 1 January 2021, there were several hundred applications filed during December which were not yet visible at all in AusPat.  In addition, there were over 1,000 applications, dating back to around 12 December 2020 (keeping in mind that IP Australia’s offices were closed over the Christmas/New Year period) for which the ‘applicant’ and ‘address for service’ fields remained empty.  Two weeks into 2021, on 15 January, 28 new applications filed in December 2020 appeared in AusPat for the first time, and there were 64 applications from December still without applicant and agent/attorney information.

Conclusion – Implications for Searching via AusPat

I should emphasise that none of this is intended as a criticism of IP Australia or the excellent AusPat service.  It is entirely appropriate that all steps are taken to ensure that the publicly-available Australian patent data is as accurate as possible, and IP Australia is clearly of the view that this requires some manual review of new applications.  My impression is that the backlog may be a little higher at present than at some times in the past, but even so a couple of weeks’ delay between filing and publication of application details is hardly excessive!

The processing delay is, however, something that users of AusPat may need to keep in mind, particularly if they are using the system to keep up with the very latest events, such as when watching for new filings by competitors or other applicants of interest.  Periodic searches, in particular, should be designed to cover overlapping time periods to ensure that new applications that might not yet have been available at the time of a previous search will be picked up by a subsequent search.


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