Welcome to the new version of the Patents Manual. Please note there are changes to the numbering and sequence of the chapters and pages in the manual. You are encouraged to take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with this new structure.

3.5.3 Providing advice to applicants and third parties

Date Published


This section provides guidance on what information examiners can and cannot provide to applicants and members of the public. The Act places restrictions on the types of information examiners can provide:

  • to applicants (in a work capacity); and
  • to members of the public in a personal capacity. ​​​​​​​

Provision of information

The Act makes it clear that examiners cannot provide legal or professional advice to applicants. IP Australia’s Information and Advice Policy explains what information staff can and cannot provide.

Examiners should:

  • adopt a positive approach to providing information (as reflected in the Customer Service Code of Practice) to ensure customers receive the best possible service;
  • exercise duty of care when providing information to customers;
  • seek to understand customers’ needs and to meet those needs, rather than just providing standard answers to questions;
  • keep informed of the latest developments in IP Australia;
  • provide customers with information about the range of products and services within IP Australia’s area of responsibility;
  • provide customers with contact details of other agencies for products and services not provided by IP Australia; and
  • clearly explain the difference between the services provided by IP Australia and those provided by IP professionals and business advisers.

When dealing with enquiries from applicants, agents, or interested third parties, examiners should not:

  • offer personal opinions or make decisions for customers;
  • give information that could limit the customer’s options;
  • assume knowledge of the customer’s needs without first asking questions;
  • ask misleading questions or make misleading statements;
  • go beyond the limits of their personal knowledge, authority, and experience;
  • advise on subjects that are beyond IP Australia’s area of responsibility or authority;
  • offer legal, financial, or business advice to customers; or
  • provide services to customers that would contravene the relevant legislation and IP Australia’s duty of care.

Requests for information

The public can access information about any application that is open for public inspection (OPI) via the eDossier in AusPat.

In response to a formal request, the commissioner can provide information to anyone about:

  • a patent;
  • an application for a patent that is open for public inspection; and
  • any prescribed document or matter.

The requestor can only be provided information that is a matter of public record.

The commissioner cannot provide information on an application that is subject to a prohibition order (secret case).

Information on the progress of an application that is not yet open for public inspection should not be given to anyone other than the applicant or their attorney. In such circumstances examiners need to be satisfied of the identity of any person seeking information that is not yet publicly available.

​​​​​​​Examiners should also note that providing any information on a case may also involve releasing personal information. Examiners should therefore adhere to IP Australia’s privacy policy when releasing information relating to an application.


Note: The unauthorised release of information that is not yet open to public inspection or any other third-party information held by IP Australia that is commercial in confidence and sensitive information (including information not owned by the Commonwealth) may constitute a violation of the APS Code of Conduct or potentially even a criminal offence.

Media enquiries

All media enquiries must be referred to Strategic Communication (for further information see Managing media).

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended
Back to top