The Board

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The Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board regulates IP attorneys in Australia and New Zealand.

The Board's role

The Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board is an independent body established by the Australian and New Zealand governments to regulate the trade marks attorney profession in Australia, and the patent attorney profession in Australia and New Zealand.

It is established under section 227A of the Patents Act 1990 and constituted under the Patents Regulations 1991.

The Board:

  • Assess applications for patent attorney qualifications
  • Assess applications for exemptions against a topic group
  • Develop and oversee the curriculum of studies to assist applicants in meeting their knowledge requirements
  • Develop guidelines for attorneys to help meet their continuing professional education obligations
  • Investigates complaints and assesses if an attorney's conduct needs to be reported to the Disciplinary Tribunal
  • Develop a Code of Conduct
  • Accredits university courses that meet the knowledge requirements to become an attorney

The Board's term of reference and impartiality policy are as follows:

The Board's structure

The Board consists of seven to ten members. All members, except ex-officio members, are appointed by the Australian Minister for Industry and Science in consultation with the New Zealand Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The Board includes:

  • A chair
  • The General Manager of IP Australia (ex-officio member)
  • The New Zealand Commissioner of Patents (ex-officio member)
  • At least two New Zealand patent attorney members
  • At least two other members.

The other members are usually registered attorneys. They can also be academics or people experienced in public administration. All appointed members need to have substantial standing, experience or knowledge in a field relevant to the Board's functions.

The current Board

The current Board members are:

  • Professor Andrew Christie, (Chair), trade marks attorney, VIC
  • Michael Schwager (ex-officio), Director General, IP Australia *
  • Ross van der Schyff, (ex-officio), NZ Commissioner of Patents
  • Kate Duckworth, patent attorney, NZ
  • Dr Karin Innes, patent and trade marks attorney, VIC
  • Viet-Chau (Veg) Tran, special counsel, NSW
  • Michelle Goldsmith, legal practitioner, VIC
  • Dr Jason Coonan, patent and trade marks attorney, VIC
  • Lynell Tuffery Huria, patent and trade marks attorney, NZ

* General Manager of the Governance Group, IP Australia. (Jennifer Hutchinson) is the deputy for the purpose of attendance at all meetings of the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board held in 2024 and 2025.   

Applications to The Board

The Board is responsible for assessing initial applications prior to seeking registration as a patent and/or trade marks attorney. 

Applications include:

  • Academic qualifications to become a Patent attorney
  • Exemptions from a topic group from a non-accredited course of study
  • Exemptions from the knowledge requirements
  • Accreditation of a course of study
  • Restoration in other circumstances
  • Statements of skill (only relevant if you are unable to obtain one through your employment and an application has been made for the Board to write one on your behalf)
  • Assessing complaints and evaluation if they need to be escalated to the Disciplinary Tribunal

The Board usually meets three times per year to consider applications, disciplinary matters and strategic matters affecting the IP attorney profession.
Applicants will be advised of the outcome of all Board decisions within 15 working days of the Board meeting via email.

Meeting dates and cut off

The Board require applications to be submitted at least 10 weeks prior to a Board meeting.

Applications for Board approval can be complex and time consuming. Applicants are encouraged to start their applications early and submit them well before the final due date. This gives the secretariat time to conduct a preliminary review and identify any additional information you may need to provide.

Future meeting dates:
Cut off dates:
 
 1 & 2 August 2024 (TBC)  24 May 2024
 14 & 15 November 2024 (TBC)  30 September 2024

The Designated Manager

The designated manager is responsible for registering patent and trade marks attorney.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining the Register of Patent Attorneys and the Register Trade Marks Attorneys
  • Registering patent and trade marks attorneys - including assessing statement of skills and declarations. There is no deadline for applications for registration.
  • Registering incorporated patent and trade marks attorneys (firms/companies)
  • Renewing registrations - including monitoring renewals and CPE compliance
  • Removing attorneys who do not meet the requirements for maintaining registration
  • Review CPE compliance through the annual CPE Audits
  • Restorations after voluntary removal (within 3 years of removal) or non-payment (prior to 1 Sept of the same year as removal)

IP Australia’s General Manager, Jennifer Hutchinson, is the designated manager.

The Board Secretariat

The Board and Designated Manager are assisted by a secretariat team, which consists of the secretary and 2 administrative assistants.

The secretariat are employees of IP Australia. They manage attorney registration, renewals and audit matters on behalf of the designated manager and support the Board in carrying out its functions.

The Board have granted delegation to the Secretary to approve applications on their behalf for:

  • Academic qualifications to become a Trade Marks attorney
  • Exemptions for A1-Legal Process and B-Professional Conduct (only under certain circumstances)
  • Knowledge requirements for Patent and/or Trade Marks attorneys (only if applicants have completed an accredited course of study or have gained an exemption from the Board)

These types of applications have no cut-off date, as the Secretary can approve these at any time.

The secretariat can be contacted at mail.ttipab@ipaustralia.gov.au for all Board related queries.

Publications

Post-meeting communiqués:

After each meeting, the Board publishes a brief summary of the matters considered and relevant updates for the profession. The latest summaries include:

Annual reports:

Every year the Board's chair provides a report on the Board's functions and responsibilities, including statistics on the applications considered and total number of registrations.