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.

2.1 Purpose of the Manual

Date Published


​​​​​​​The Manual is provided as a reference document for patent examiners. The Manual sets out the general principles and legal standards patent examiners are to apply during examination. 

The Manual also sets out, where applicable, authorised practices that apply to the searching and examination of national and international applications, and other associated actions.

The Structure and Publication of the Manual

The Manual is currently arranged into nine Volumes covering various aspects of examination including classification, searching, formalities, national examination, international examination and oppositions.

In structuring the Manual in this manner IP Australia is seeking to provide a reference document which:

  • Provides accurate and consistent content that is readily accessible to users and that is in a format that enables user to readily apply the relevant information.
  • Provides guidance on practices and procedures that achieve consistency of practice across examination sections; and
  • Distinguishes practices and procedures from educational information about the Administration of the Patents Act and the Law as informed by relevant Court decisions. Ensuring that all information relevant to patent law and practice continues to be discoverable and accessible to all users.

​​​​​​​The Manual is a controlled document which is exclusively published in an electronic format and its accuracy can only be guaranteed when viewed electronically.

Terms of Use and Disclaimers

This Manual is not intended as a user guide to the patent system for patent applicants.

While all care has been taken in preparing and publishing this Manual's contents, associated links, and linked legislation, the Commonwealth, the Director General, the staff of IP Australia accept no responsibility for any error or omission in the Manual's contents, associated links, or linked legislation, or their consequences, including any damage or loss which may be incurred as a result of reliance on the accuracy, currency or completeness of the Manual's contents, associated links or linked legislation.

​​​​​​​Access to and use of the Manual's contents, associated links, and linked legislation is provided subject to and conditional upon acceptance of the terms of this disclaimer.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

History of the Manual

The Australian Patent Office Manual of Practice and Procedure (short title the ‘Patent Manual’) has a long history.



April 1957

While consolidated “Instruction to Examiner’s” appeared as early as 1928, the first comprehensive Patent Office Examiner’s Manual was published in 1957 dealing with legal issues under the 1952 Act.

Jan 1970

A revised and enlarged version of the 1957 Edition was published. “C-series circulars” were also issued from time to time and significant changes incorporated in the manual periodically. Manual and updates available externally by subscription service.

Dec 1974

Documentation Manual created covering use of Patent Office records. Classification and searching.

Nov 1981

PCT Examiner’s Manual created.

Feb 1983

Petty Patent Manual created.


PERP (Patent Examiner’s Report Processing) Manual created.

July 1984

A major revision of the Patent Examiner’s Manual occurred, and all parts were rewritten.  This was the first version of the Manual to be prepared using word processing.

Sept 1988

Comprehensive Patents, Trade Marks and Design’s Hearings Manual created.

Oct 1988

Examiner’s Procedural Manual issued to “provide guidance on procedural matters relating to the work of an examiner” including classification and searching.

Dec 1988

Last major revision of the 1952 Act Examiner’s Manual.

Aug 1989

2nd Edition of the Petty Patents Manual.

Early 1990’s

The introduction of the Patents Act 1990 meant the manuals needed major revision. A plan was developed for a single comprehensive manual and the Patent Office Manual of Practice and Procedure was created in four volumes:

  • Volume 1 – International (March 1993)

  • Volume 2 – National (May 1994)

  • Volume 3 – Oppositions, Courts, Extensions and Disputes (July 1993)

  • Volume 4 – Classification, Searching and Information Technology Procedures (for internal use only) (April 1995)

The approach of issuing supplementary or interim Practice Notes, C-series Circulars, and other sources of practice information ceased.

Aug 1999

The Patent Manual is made available electronically to internal and external users (HTML and Adobe Acrobat formats)

Dec 2005

Volume 5 of the Patent Manual is created – PAMS Examiner’s Reference.  This consolidated all procedural information about PAMS (for internal use only).


The Manual is progressively converted to a new electronic format (using RoboHelp). Production of the Manual in paper form and the subscription service ceased.

July 2006

Volume 6 – PERP (Patent Examiner’s Report Processing) Manual is added for internal users. The Examiner’s word processing manual was previously separate in paper and electronic form.

Nov 2008

Advanced ISYS search engine implemented for internal users

Aug 2010

Volume 4 – new part 4.9 INTESS User Guide is added for internal users with a major revision in June 2011 for full roll-out.

June 2012

Volume 4 – new part 4.11 Using DocGen is added for internal users.

Aug 2012

Commencement of draft changes to the manual to reflect the new provisions resulting from the Raising the Bar Bill which comes into effect on 15 April 2013.  Where changes are less significant, these will be included in parts that cover both old and new practices, with their application clearly noted.  Where examination practice varies pre- and post-commencement, there will be alternative parts of the manual appropriately labelled to cover both situations.  To enable the timely publication of these changes, it is planned to freeze the publication of routine changes to the manual for the period January to April 2013.  

Aug 2014

Google Search engine implemented for internal users

March 2015

Commencement of insertion of Caselaw links into Volume 2

Nov 2015

Revised to reflect new Patent Examination structure after creation of PCPEG and PMOG

Jan 2016

Link to Learning Online placed in Header Menu

Feb 2016

New Sections created in Volume 4 to centralise Searching Guidance
(outcome of Improved Searching Working Group)

Oct 2017

Volume 4.1 Searching part of the manual made available for external viewing

Nov 2017

Adaptive mobile phone/tablet version of the manual provided for external users

Mar 2023The structure of the Manual was reformed and the content was updated to reflect the most recent legislation and practices. A beta version of the manual was released internally for feedback about the updates.

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended
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