Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) is a term covering the wide range of intangible property resulting from investment in the creative and intellectual effort of individuals and organisations.

Governments aim to obtain a range of different outcomes from their IP assets, including operational and public benefits, and financial returns in certain limited circumstances.

IP created by or for the Queensland Government is described as Crown intellectual property (Crown IP).

Refer to the Intellectual property info kit on the Business Queensland website for more on Australia’s IP system and ways to record and protect IP assets.

Crown IP includes material protected by copyright law, such as public sector information, literary and artistic works, software, film and sound recordings. It also includes IP rights in inventions (such as patents), plant breeder’s rights, circuit layouts, trademarks, and designs.

Like all government assets, Crown IP assets are valuable and should be managed responsibly. Good management benefits all Queenslanders.

Administration of Crown IP across government

The Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy, and Minister for the Arts, is responsible for the administration of Crown IP across government. Crown IP staff in the Queensland Government Customer and Digital Group (QGCDG), Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy (DCHDE), assist agencies to manage their IP by:

  • promoting a consistent approach to Crown IP management based on the Queensland public sector intellectual property principles  (PDF, 400.7 KB) (IP principles) and other IP guidance
  • coordinating audits of Crown IP management across government, and using the outcomes to improve the effectiveness and maturity of Crown IP management
  • assisting Queensland Government agencies to access IP training and resources, and understand their responsibilities regarding Crown IP
  • managing agreements with three copyright collecting societies on behalf of the Queensland Government
  • providing whole of government information through a Crown IP policy framework.

Email for more information.

Guidance on best practice Crown IP management, including managing IP with commercial potential, is provided within a broad policy and legislative framework. The framework includes the:

Queensland public sector intellectual property principles (IP Principles)

Queensland public sector intellectual property principles

The Queensland public sector intellectual property principles (PDF, 401 KB) provide best practice, high-level policy advice in the creation, recording, use, sharing, protection and dissemination of Crown IP. It aligns with the requirements of the:

Crown IP Management general principles

Crown IP Management general principles include:

  • responsibility
  • implementation of the IP Framework
  • Creative Commons licensing of government copyright information
  • Creative Commons licensing of Queensland records
  • Financial Accountability Act 2009 (Queensland)
  • sharing IP within government
  • maintaining a flexible approach
  • rewards and recognition.

Queensland Government agencies have a broad range of responsibilities for managing intellectual property. These include:

  • developing and implementing an agency-level IP management policy that suits the agency’s core functions and objectives, reflects the IP Principles and provides for:
    • releasing suitably licensed Crown IP to the public where appropriate
    • identifying, protecting and managing Crown IP that may be suitable for commercialisation, or that requires different treatment
    • recording IP assets created (on an IP register)
  • ensuring employees are supported by appropriate guidance, training and resources.

Under the Financial and Performance Management Standard 2019 (section 11 (1) (c)), agencies must have an assets management system (assets include IP assets such as copyright materials). Agency employees should be aware of the IP assets developed, owned or used in their division, and more generally, of applicable legislation, the IP Principles and other relevant policies.


Commonwealth of Australia IP legislative framework:

Queensland Government legislation:

Queensland Government policies and guidance relevant to Crown IP management

Innovation and IP management

A number of areas within an agency may be responsible for providing assistance to or managing innovative projects likely to create new technologies, products or processes, which may require IP protection or raise questions about IP ownership. Resulting IP assets, such as patentable inventions, new plant varieties, designs or trademarks, may be used across government, shared with the public, or commercialised if appropriate, to drive value and benefit the broader economy.

Agency areas often involved in this process are Procurement, Legal Services, Information Management, Open Data Management, and IP Management.

Government employees should be aware of, and actively consider, IP assets created for or by their agency or used by their agency. IP management is relevant to all work areas. Therefore, Queensland Government employees should consider IP in everything they do.

Examples of situations that require employees to consider, or seek help with, IP

Example 1

Activity: Engaging contractors, consultants, vendors and other suppliers of systems, products or services, and including IP clauses in agreements with them.

Employees responsible: Procurement and Legal

Example 2

Activity: Licensing copyright material for publication.

Employees responsible: Communications, General business and Legal

The Queensland Government encourages the dissemination and re-use of its published, public information. Government copyright material published for public use is provided under a Creative Commons 4.0 international licence, with the copyright by attribution (CC BY) licence is used as the default licence, when appropriate. Licences in use on Crown copyright material include:

  • a Creative Commons 4.0 international licence, when appropriate
  • a restrictive licence (RL), or other customised agreement, used if IP protection is an issue or a copyright asset may be commercialised (Legal services to advise).

Example 3

Activity: Ensuring that the agency owns or is licensed to use copyright material on agency websites accessible to the public, and checking that, as far as practicable, copyright material owned by a third party is clearly labelled, and the agency has permission to use the third party material.

Employees responsible: Communications and General business

Example 4

Activity: Ensuring that any copyright material on a public-facing website that should not be released under a Creative Commons licence is clearly identified and any necessary notices are included.

Employees responsible: Communications and General business

For example, identify:

  • the government coat of arms or government logos
  • trade mark protected material
  • IP (including copyright) owned by third parties
  • material available under other licences.

Example 5

Activity: Using material created by a third party.

Employees responsible: Legal, Policy, and General business

Example 6

Activity: Creating copyright material, such as research, presentations or training programs.

Employees responsible: Policy and General business

Example 7

Activity: Answering requests from third parties to use agency material.

Employees responsible: Data custodian and IP officer

Example 8

Activity: Managing grants to develop products or processes involving the creation of IP.

Employees responsible: Legal, Procurement, Management, Funding programs

Whole-of-government intellectual property (IP) audits survey IP management practices within the Queensland Government and the kinds of outcomes obtained from Crown IP over time. The reports on IP audit findings include recommendations to strengthen IP management effectiveness so that Crown IP assets will deliver maximum economic and community benefits to Queensland in the future.

IP audit process

  1. The Director-General responsible for whole-of-government Crown IP administration advises all Queensland Government Director-Generals and Chief Executive Officers about the next IP audit.
  2. The IP officers nominated as agency contacts receive an IP audit questionnaire, background information, and supporting material. They distribute the questionnaire internally and prepare a consolidated agency response.
  3. Once responses are received and considered, preliminary findings are discussed with the agency contacts and a draft IP audit report is provided for their feedback.
  4. Directors-General and IP contacts receive a copy of the Crown IP audit report when it has been approved.

For more general information on how to conduct an IP audit, visit Business Queensland.

Crown IP audit reports

The Crown IP audit reports serve three functions:

  • incorporates self-assessments agencies have made of their IP management and processes, ideas for improvement, and examples of IP management advances since the last audit.
  • compares current audit responses with previous responses and provide a snapshot of current IP practices.
  • approved recommendations provided in the Crown IP audit reports inform the whole-of-government Crown IP work program.

2019 Crown IP Audit

Over 2019, the Queensland Government conducted a whole-of-government IP audit. This audit was coordinated by the Queensland Government Customer and Digital Group (QGCDG). The audit surveyed IP management in Queensland Government agencies since the last whole-of-government IP audit in 2015.