To ensure you maintain your knowledge and provide a high standard of service, you need to complete continuing professional education (CPE) activities each year.
- A wide range of activities qualify
- You need to keep records of your activities for at least three years
How does it work?
As a registered attorney, you have a professional obligation to keep up to date with the constant changes in the field of intellectual property, including:
- Changes to legislation
- New case law
- Technology trends
- Laws and practices of major trading partners.
These are relevant to practising as a trade marks or patent attorney, including activities on ethics and professional conduct.
You must complete at least:
- 10 hours for attorneys registered as either a trade marks or patent attorney
- 15 hours for attorneys registered as both a trade marks or patent attorney.
Failure to complete sufficient CPE could result in your registration being suspended.
What type of activities qualify?
A wide range of activities quality as long as they are relevant to your practice. This includes:
- Lectures, workshops, or webinars
- Formal courses of study
- In-house training programs, lectures or seminars
- Delivering training or teaching courses
- Participating in organised discussion groups on topics of professional interest
- Service on technical committees of a professional body
- Writing articles, papers or books
- Up to 3 hours of private study, including reading professional or technical journals or magazines (or 4.5 hours if registered as both a patent and trade marks attorney).
Other study, which relates to your professional practice and has some level of formality or structure, may also qualify as CPE.
You can use the below template to help record your CPE:
Subject matter requirements
You should try to complete a variety of activities relevant to your practise. The Board's minimum requirements are:
- All attorneys complete 1 hour of professional conduct or ethics CPE activities
- Patent attorneys complete 5 hours of CPE in the field of patents
- Trade marks attorneys complete 5 hours of CPE in the field of trade marks
- Dual-registered patent and trade mark attorneys complete 5 hours each in the field of patents and trade marks
- Patent attorneys complete CPE relevant to both Australia and New Zealand patent law and practice.
Along with professional conduct or ethics, and trade marks and/or patents, other topics include:
- Trade secrets
- Innovation funding
Detailed information can be found in the Board’s continuing professional education guidelines:
Tips to help meet the requirements
- Attend conferences and seminars by attorney professional bodies.
- Keep good records. Record the dates, names and content of your CPE. This information will be required if you are audited.
- Don't rely too much on training required for other professions. This includes legal continuing professional development. ‘Double-dipping’ is permitted, but the training must be relevant to the attorney profession.
- Don't rely on internal practice meetings. These may not qualify as relevant training.
- Some private study can count as CPE. This can include reading trade magazines, such as Trademark World. If you are a registered trade marks or patent attorney, you can count up to three hours of private study. If you are registered as both, you can count up to four-and-a-half hours.
How to demonstrate compliance
You need to complete your CPE requirements each year before renewing your registration.
During the annual renewal process, you will need to submit a completed CPE declaration. If you have registered for the first time, you don't have to undertake CPE until after your first renewal period.
If you are unable to meet the CPE requirements, contact us to discuss your personal situation before 1 July. You may be able to seek a conditional approval of your renewal. Your renewal may then be approved on the condition that you make up the shortfall in CPE hours before your next renewal.
Make sure you keep records of all CPE activities you complete, including the following details:
- Type (webinar, university course, private study etc)
- Evidence of completion (e.g. receipts).
Records must be kept for at least three years and must be supplied if you are audited.
The Designated Manager conducts an annual CPE audit on a random selection of attorneys to assess their CPE activities in detail.
You may be suspended for up to 6 months if the audit finds that you have not completed:
- The required CPE hours or
- Enough hours relevant to IP.
Selected attorneys will be contacted directly if their participation is required. Giving false written statements or failing to produce records when requested may result in your registration being removed.
See the results in our CPE Audit reports.