The Largest Patent Prosecution Firms in Australia

Published On: 2024-01-30|Tags: , |3.9 min read|

The patent prosecution market in Australia is highly concentrated and dominated by a relatively small number of firms. According to IP Pilot’s data, within a universe of 194,383 filings, attributed to over 180 renowned Australian law firms, an intriguing scenario is observed. Merely the five patent prosecution firms in Australia hold the primacy of representing more than 50% of the total volume of filings made over the last five years.

Rank: Largest 25 Patent Prosecution Firms in Australia

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This finding reveals a notable concentration of legal activity in the hands of a restricted group of firms. SPRUSON & FERGUSON stands out as the largest firm, representing approximately 32,331 patent applications published from 2018 to 2022. In second place, we have DAVIES COLLISON CAVE, with 20,441 records in the same interval. GRIFFITH HACK occupies the third position, with 19,526 filings.

FB RICE and PHILLIPS ORMONDE & FITZPATRICK occupy the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, and are the only independent firms among the top 5 Australian patent firms. The next largest independent firms are WRAYS and MADDERNS, which are in the ninth and tenth positions.

All other firms belong either to IPH or QANTM. Besides SPRUSON & FERGUSON, IPH owns GRIFFITH HACK, PIZZEYS, SHELSTON IP, WATERMARK, and AJ PARK. Except for AJ PARK (11) and WATERMARK (27), all of these firms rank in the top 10 for filing volume in Australia, accounting for more than 76,100 representations over the past five years.

GRIFFITH HACK, SHELSTON IP, and WATERMARK were incorporated into IPH through the acquisition of Xenith IP. As of November 2019, WATERMARK has been integrated into GRIFFITH HACK. In September 2021, SHELSTON IP and SPRUSON & FERGUSON merged to operate under the SPRUSON & FERGUSON brand.

QANTM, the other public IP firm holding, owns DAVIES COLLISON CAVE, FPA PATENT ATTORNEYS (rank 7), and acquired COTTERS (rank 23) in 2020, which since July 2022, has been integrated into FPA. QANTM firms account for 32,191 filings overall.

This concentration becomes apparent when compared to other markets. For instance, in the United States (you can find the US country report here), the top 50 firms account for 32% of all filings between 2018 and 2022.

*CULLENS and FISHER ADAMS KELLY CALLINANS are two firms whose brands have been discontinued after joining IPH.

Overall Patent Landscape in Australia

Approximately 88% of all filings represented by Australian patent prosecution firms had foreign origins. This implies a high focus of the representatives on international clients, which may reflect that in addition to having a strong and well-established patent system, Australia is an economically attractive market for many international companies.

The vast majority of the 25 largest patent prosecution firms in Australia have a similar trend, with more than half of them having 80% of their portfolio exposed to international clients. Only a few firms – MICHAEL BUCK IP, BAXTER PATENT ATTORNEYS, and ALDER IP PTY LTD – worked primarily with domestic clients, with their share of foreign work lower than 50% (see Table).

This is because most of the applicants filing in Australia came from foreign origins, with the majority coming from the United States, China, Germany, Japan, and Great Britain. Some of the largest filers between 2018 and 2022 included American companies APPLE and QUALCOMM INC, Chinese companies HUAWEI TECH CO LTD and GUANGDONG OPPO MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORP LTD, and South Korean company LG ELETRONICS INC.

Australia: Shares of Foreign Filings per Firm

Case Exchange Trends

Regarding the international patent case exchange, the United States, China, Germany, Japan, and the UK were the primary foreign partners of Australia in the considered time frame. Australia sent most of the cases (3,978) to the US, accounting for 23% of the total sent amount, followed by China (2,036/12%) and Canada (1,890/11%). At the same time, Australian representatives received high volumes from Americans (53,212 cases), which is 48% of the overall received filings, Chinese (10,125/9%), and Germans (7,649/7%).

Law Firms Receiving Most Cases from Australia: Country Breakdown 2018-2022
Law Firms Sending Most Cases to Australia: Country Breakdown 2018-2022

To Sum Up

Australia’s patent prosecution market is highly concentrated, with the top five firms representing over 50% of the 194,383 filings in the last five years. Most patent prosecution firms in Australia are part of IPH or QANTM and are highly focused on international clients, with 88% of filings having foreign origins. Major applicants in Australia are from the United States, China, Germany, Japan, and the UK. The country’s international case exchange highlights partnerships with the US, China, Germany, Japan, and the UK, indicating Australia’s appeal to global companies.

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