Under the Headstart accelerated examination system (AU$540 official fees), IP Australia will issue a confidential assessment within 5 working days as to whether or not the mark will encounter any official objections, including any potential cited prior trademarks.
If the official assessment is positive and the Examiner indicates that no objections will be raised, then the application can be formally confirmed by the applicant within a further 5 working day period. This period cannot be extended and an additional AU$560 fee is due to proceed to the second step of the process.
If, on the other hand, there are any issues that are raised by the Examiner, the applicant can amend the request which may include amending the trademark, even to the extent of changing the mark itself. This new procedure gives the applicant immediate feedback on his chance of success.
Once the application has been confirmed, an updated official check will be conducted by the Examiner then an early Notice of Acceptance is likely to issue about two weeks later and the application will then proceed to advertisement in the Official Journal of Trade Marks, and it will be open to opposition for a three month period. In the absence of opposition from third parties, the registration fee will then be payable and the mark will be registered in Australia.
The fast track to foreign trademark rights in Australia can subsequently expedite registrations in other jurisdictions including the U.S. and provide claims for priority based on actual foreign registration rather than co-pending foreign applications. If a brand owner will be selling Australia, this new procedure should be seriously considered for protection of its mark in this important English speaking market.