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Country Report: The Largest Australian Patent Law Firms

Which patent law firms are most active in Australia? What are typical filing strategies and how do firm differ in terms of client structure? This is what this report is about.

Before getting started, here is a few words about the dataset we analyze: It contains all national AU filings as well as PCT filings handled by Australian patent law firms since 2014. These patents can be granted patents as well as published patent applications.

Upfront, it is important to understand how we allocated the applications to the respective years. We use a mix of patent filing dates and dates of the earliest publication. Whenever an application is itself the priority filing, a direct AU foreign filing or a PCT application filed by an Australian law firm, we refer to the application filing date. However, when an AU application is a subsequent of a foreign priority and filed on the PCT route, we use the earliest publication date. This distinction is necessary because, in the raw data, PCT-based national phase applications usually receive the filing date of the underlying PCT rather than the actual filing date of the national filing. The earliest publication date is much closer to actual time an Australian law firm has worked on the filing.

For priority applications, patents information are published 18 months after they have been filed. Therefore, figures cannot yet be complete for 2017 and 2018 applications/grants. We have included the latest publications we have available.

 

The largest Australian patent law firms: Who are they and how did they develop over time

Over the last 5 year, SPRUSON & FERGUSON was the largest Australian law firm. They represented 8,300 filings and are the only firm with more than 16,000 patent applications since 2014. DAVIES COLLISON CAVE comes in second with 15,600 filings. GRIFFITH HACK is on rank 3 with 14,200 filings. These three firms are of similar size and change rank from time to time. Still, in every year between 2014 and 2018, they kept a position within the top 3.

On rank 4 to 5, we find PHILLIPS ORMONDE & FITZPATRICK, FB RICE and PIZZEYS PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS who have represented around 10,000 filings.  SHELSTON IP is on position 7. Here, we see roughly 9,000 filings overall.

The top 10 is completed by three firms with overall filings between 6,100 and 7,300: FPA PATENT ATTORNEYS PTY LTD, FISHER ADAMS KELLY CALLINANS and WATERMARK PATENT & TRADEMARK ATTORNEYS.

All other Australian patent law firms outside the top 10 have represented less than 4,000 filings. In order to be in the top 20, at least 950 filings are necessary. 230 filings qualify for the top 50.

Although acting under separate names, quite a number of patent law firms belong together: SPRUSON & FERGUSON, PIZZEYS and AJ PARK are part of IPH Group. In February 2018, they also bought FISHER ADAMS KELLY CALLINANS and CULLENS whose brands are discontinued. DAVIES COLLISON CAVE and FPA PATENT ATTORNEYS are part of QANTM and GRIFFITH HACK, SHELSTON IP and WATERMARK belong to Xenith IP Group. In November 2018, QANTM and Xenith announced that they are planning to merge into one joint corporation.

These overall statistics give an indication about the size of a law firm. However, it does not tell much about the kind of representations, filing strategies or client structure. In order to analyze at this more closely, we next differentiate between domestic and foreign filings of Australian patent firms.

 

Domestic vs. foreign filings of the largest patent law firms in Australia

We define a domestic filing as a filing whose priority was represented by an Australian law firm. It is either the priority application itself or a domestic subsequent (e.g. a divisional application or a PCT application following an AU priority). By a foreign filing on the other hand, we mean a filing where the priority was filed outside Australia and where the firm took over the national Australian filing.

SPRUSON & FERGUSON remains number one for foreign filings, but is only number four for domestic filings. Here, GRIFFITH HACK is leading the score. Most of the firms of the overall ranking are also in the top 10 for domestic filings. Only PIZZEYS PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS and WATERMARK PATENT & TRADEMARK ATTORNEYS are just outside the top 10, while CULLENS and WRAYS are in the top 10 for this category. Regarding foreign filings, we find that all top 10 firms remain in the top 10, but to some extent change ranks with each other.

The percentage of foreign filings among all filings is between 77% and 95%. Although it implies that all top 10 firms represent more foreign filings than domestic filings, this ratio shows quite some difference in client structure. So, PIZZEYS PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS, the firm with the highest foreign filing structure, works for foreign clients to a large extent, while GRIFFITH HACK and FISHER ADAMS KELLY CALLINANS have the most balanced client portfolio within the Top 10.

Among the firms outside the Top 10 and within the Top 20, CULLENS and HALFORDS IP have the lowest foreign filing ratios (65% and 61%). Obviously, these are firms with a strong domestic focus. The highest foreign filing ratios are found for PIZZEYS and BALDWIN SHELSTON WATERS.

 

PCT vs. AU patent applications filed by the largest Australian patent law firms

The largest PCT filing law firm in Australia is DAVIES COLLISON CAVE, followed by GRIFFITH HACK and FB RICE. Most of the leading positions for PCT filings are occupied by the firms who are also on top of the overall ranking. PIZZEYS PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS is the only exception in the top 10. While ranking number 6 overall, they are only on position 35 for PCT filings. Another exception in the Top 20 is BALDWIN SHELSTON WATERS, ranking on 113 for PCT filings, but on position 17 overall.

The ratio of PCT filings to overall filings is usually between 2% and 8% for the largest law firms. For two firms, HALFORDS IP and ADAMS PLUCK, we see ratios above 10%. In the Top 25, BAXTER PATENT ATTORNEYS has the highest ratio with 18%.

Since PCT filings are mostly done for domestic clients, the ratio is usually high for firms that have a strong domestic client base. However, we see differences also for the PCT over domestic ratio. It is usually between 20 and 30%. Outliers are AJ PARK, PIZZEYS PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS and BALDWIN SHELSTON WATERS with ratios between 2% and 11%.

This report focuses on the largest patent law firms in Australia. Below you will find a table with all information for the Top 100 firms, even if not mentioned in the text.

 

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Overall

Rank Rank Ratio Rank Rank Ratio

Ratio

Rank Law Firm  Overall Filings

Domestic filings

Foreign Filings

Foreign Filings

PCT Filings

AU filings

PCT/
Overall

PCT/
Domestic

1 SPRUSON & FERGUSON 16,854 4 1 90% 5 1 2% 21%
2 DAVIES COLLISON CAVE 15,638 2 2 84% 1 2 4% 27%
3 GRIFFITH HACK 14,203 1 3 77% 2 3 5% 20%
4 PHILLIPS ORMONDE & FITZPATRICK 10,671 5 5 87% 4 4 4% 27%
5 FB RICE 10,044 3 6 82% 3 6 5% 30%
6 PIZZEYS PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 10,013 13 4 95% 35 5 0% 6%
7 SHELSTON IP  9,057 7 7 88% 10 7 3% 22%
8 FPA PATENT ATTORNEYS PTY LTD  7,301 10 8 87% 9 8 3% 26%
9 FISHER ADAMS KELLY CALLINANS  6,419 8 10 83% 6 9 5% 29%
10 WATERMARK PATENT & TRADEMARK ATTORNEYS  6,144 12 9 87% 12 10 3% 24%
11 CULLENS  3,669 6 13 65% 7 12 8% 23%
12 MADDERNS  3,628 11 11 78% 11 11 6% 25%
13 WRAYS  3,586 9 12 73% 8 13 7% 26%
14 AJ PARK  2,205 29 14 91% 53 14 1% 11%
15 ALLENS PATENT & TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS  1,190 34 15 86% 26 15 4% 26%
16 HOULIHAN2  1,044 41 17 87% 32 17 4% 27%
17 BALDWIN SHELSTON WATERS  1,019 82 16 95% 113 16 0% 2%
18 HALFORDS IP  1,018 15 21 61% 13 20 13% 35%
19 COLLISON & CO 982 20 20 71% 20 18 6% 21%
20 COTTERS PATENT & TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 958 28 18 80% 25 19 5% 23%
21 ADAMS PLUCK 844 17 24 56% 15 22 12% 27%
22 IP GATEWAY 840 42 19 84% 53 21 3% 16%
23 JAMES & WELLS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 636 64 22 88% 0 23 0% 0%
24 MURRAY TRENTO & ASSOCIATES PTY LTD 597 43 26 78% 43 24 4% 19%
25 BAXTER PATENT ATTORNEYS 596 14 36 31% 14 29 18% 26%
26 A.P.T. PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 571 52 25 83% 113 25 0% 1%
27 DARK IP 545 68 23 87% 64 26 3% 23%
28 MINTER ELLISON 534 65 27 86% 61 27 3% 23%
29 GOLJA HAINES & FRIEND 523 48 28 78% 35 28 6% 27%
30 K&L GATES LLP 521 30 33 64% 17 30 12% 34%
31 MICHAEL BUCK IP 483 18 37 37% 19 34 12% 20%
32 PATENT ATTORNEY SERVICES 457 57 30 81% 68 32 3% 17%
33 PETER MAXWELL & ASSOCIATES 454 56 31 80% 68 33 3% 16%
34 EAGAR & MARTIN PTY LTD 450 19 40 33% 18 38 14% 21%
35 PIPERS PATENT ATTORNEYS 448 76 29 87% 88 31 1% 8%
36 MARKS & CLERK 438 65 31 83% 64 35 4% 21%
37 ADMIRAL TRADEMARKS & PATENTS SERVICES 420 16 71 10% 0 36 0% 0%
38 LORD AND COMPANY 413 27 34 51% 21 37 12% 25%
39 WALLINGTON-DUMMER 368 24 44 38% 23 39 13% 21%
40 ARMOUR IP 363 21 50 29% 22 40 14% 20%
41 LESICAR MAYNARD ANDREWS 334 22 54 29% 28 42 12% 17%
42 IP SOLVED 325 32 39 46% 41 41 8% 15%
43 CHURCHILL ATTORNEYS 322 23 56 27% 16 48 25% 34%
44 WYNNES PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 304 31 46 40% 23 45 16% 27%
45 CHRYSILIOU IP 293 36 45 45% 50 43 8% 14%
46 WADESON 292 45 38 56% 53 43 7% 16%
47 FRANKE HYLAND 287 40 41 50% 32 46 13% 26%
48 AHEARNS 275 33 50 39% 39 47 10% 17%
49 SMOORENBURG PATENT & TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 245 46 47 48% 27 51 17% 32%
50 CASKA IP PTY LTD 239 26 79 13% 30 52 16% 18%
51 ELLIS | TERRY 233 82 35 80% 0 49 0% 0%
52 PROTECTMYIDEA.COM.AU 233 25 93 7% 43 50 11% 12%
52 HODGKINSON MCINNES PATENTS 223 61 43 64% 38 54 13% 36%
54 ALDER IP PTY LTD 218 35 66 26% 28 56 18% 24%
55 FRASER OLD & SOHN 218 47 52 46% 48 53 11% 19%
56 TATLOCKS CHRYSILIOU IP 199 51 55 49% 61 55 9% 17%
57 SANDERCOCK & COWIE 184 37 77 17% 50 57 12% 14%
58 MOLINS & CO 176 39 78 18% 30 71 22% 26%
59 BELYEA IP 170 55 59 46% 39 62 16% 30%
60 IP SENTINELS PATENT AND TRADEMARK ATTORNEYS 169 44 74 22% 43 60 15% 19%
61 MORCOM PERNAT 167 38 90 10% 43 61 15% 17%
62 CREATEIP 161 100 41 89% 103 58 1% 11%
63 ACACIA LAW 155 89 47 76% 88 59 3% 14%
64 MDP PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 133 50 84 18% 53 64 16% 19%
65 FOUNDRY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PTY LTD 128 58 72 31% 42 70 20% 30%
66 PATENTEUR PTY LTD 121 49 107 8% 35 75 26% 28%
67 CLARK IP LAW, PLC 120 81 60 57% 61 67 14% 33%
68 ACUMEN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 119 74 65 49% 64 67 13% 26%
69 CATALYST INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 116 117 49 93% 0 63 0% 0%
70 MACPHERSON + KELLEY LAWYERS 111 82 63 58% 84 67 7% 17%
71 MONKS IP 111 60 82 23% 34 82 32% 41%
72 PHOENIX INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 111 69 70 39% 70 72 13% 21%
73 IN-LEGAL LIMITED 110 113 52 91% 0 65 0% 0%
74 ATKINSON IP 109 65 76 31% 0 66 0% 0%
75 JONES TULLOCH 109 74 68 44% 72 73 12% 21%
76 TJ IP PATENTS, TRADE MARKS & DESIGNS 109 54 95 14% 60 75 17% 20%
77 ACTUATE IP 103 52 120 5% 57 79 19% 20%
77 ELLIPTIC LEGAL & PATENT SERVICES 100 62 86 20% 57 80 20% 25%
79 AUSTRALASIA IP PTY LTD 98 62 88 18% 50 82 22% 28%
80 ADAM LAW PATENT & TRADE MARK ATTORNEY 94 69 81 28% 57 84 21% 29%
81 EKM LEGAL 93 91 64 67% 91 77 4% 13%
82 E.F. WELLINGTON & CO. 92 117 57 91% 0 74 0% 0%
83 DENNEMEYER & ASSOCCIATES 88 128 58 94% 103 78 2% 40%
84 WALSH & ASSOCIATES 87 59 0 0% 43 90 29% 29%
85 RAVEN IP 86 69 88 21% 48 89 27% 34%
86 INTELLEPRO 80 73 95 19% 79 86 13% 15%
87 ASCOT MARTIN PATENT AND TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 79 80 82 32% 82 86 11% 17%
88 AJ PIETRAS & CO 77 113 61 87% 0 81 0% 0%
89 MEYER WEST IP PTY LTD 77 72 107 13% 78 88 14% 16%
90 HENRY HUGHES 73 122 62 90% 0 85 0% 0%
91 PINI PATENT & TRADE MARK ATTORNEYS 70 77 103 17% 72 92 19% 22%
92 PEGASUS IP 67 92 74 55% 84 91 12% 27%
93 SUMMIT IP 62 78 115 11% 75 95 19% 22%
93 OSULLIVANS 61 88 85 38% 72 96 21% 34%
95 DUNCAN BUCKNELL COMPANY PTY LTD 59 78 123 7% 75 97 20% 22%
96 KNIGHTSBRIDGE 56 122 67 88% 96 93 5% 43%
97 PAPPAS IP 56 87 90 30% 64 101 29% 41%
98 KROUZER IP 55 86 103 22% 70 100 25% 33%
99 WALKER IP 54 94 80 54% 96 94 6% 12%
100 FRESHWATER IP 47 89 107 21% 79 107 21% 27%

2018-12-10T09:28:52+00:00 December 10th, 2018|