IP data – now intuitive, visually

Stephen Cannings | 27 Jul 2018

IP Australia has a wealth of intellectual property data. But with more than 40 interconnected data sets, it is enough to make the most data-savvy users shake in their slippers.

Providing many users with essential information on trademarks, patents, and even plant breeder’s rights, IP Australia wanted to transform its default data into something special.

The default data is IP GOLD (Intellectual Property Open Live Data).

The transformation was sheer, data alchemy.

screenshot of IP NOVA


First, the agency needed a collaborator. To find one it offered a prize in GovHack, the annual event for digital creators and data enthusiasts. It's a collaborative space where teams form and work with agencies with the aim of producing great products and services using government public data.

One team caught the eye of the judges, who set out to connect patents by common citations and applicants to show the relationships between ideas.

This team won, and then later commissioned to develop a platform to make IP data easier and better to use, especially for non-experts.

The process was not without its challenges. The agency was creating a totally new data product, working in an Agile development environment. This involved some fast learning from business areas that had not previously worked on a project in this way.

Another challenge was testing. It was not easy to find users who could provide the feedback that would help guide the product’s development. The tool was built on cloud infrastructure, which initially raises challenges around authentication, governance, and security. (Agencies looking to run web apps should check out cloud.gov.au).

Since the release of the IP NOVA beta, IP Australia’s future focus is on developing the cloud-based infrastructure and setting up analytics labs, and the further development of a global database for trademarks. 

IP NOVA was built upon an extract of IP GOLD, where data has been stripped back to core business facts and ingested into an elastic search database for indexing and fast search results.

The result is a kind of data alchemy, of turning the ordinary into something more valuable. So far it’s a pleasing blend of form and function.

IP NOVA was born out of a public-private collaboration and is a clear example of the benefits that can be realised from the government’s open data policy.