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Since the introduction of innovation patents in Australia in 2001, purportedly to boost the innovation metric in small and medium-sized businesses, less than 5,000 were ever awarded to the scheme’s targets.

“Innovation patents are filed by a very small proportion of Australian businesses,” IP Australia said in response to Senate Questions on Notice. “As of February 2018, in total, 4,269 Australian SMEs had ever applied for an innovation patent.”

In 2016, local small businesses applied for almost 1,700 standard patents and less than 500 innovation patents, the agency said.

IP Australia further added that most businesses are not getting value from the system, with 74 percent filing once and never again, 78 percent letting the patent expire early, and 83 percent never receiving an enforceable right by having the agency review the patent.

“In 2016, Australian SMEs filed more than three times the number of standard patents than innovation patents,” IP Australia said.

Rather than helping small businesses, IP Australia said it was hitting them to the tune of AU$6 million to AU$17 million each year in regulatory burden.

“The identified problems are mainly associated with the fact that innovation patents are granted without being examined and the low innovation threshold required by the system,” the agency said.

“The absence of compulsory examination before grant causes uncertainty and imposes a burden on competitors…