(2020) The Impact of Design Rights on Australian Firms

with Achinthya Koswatta, Alfons Palangkaraya, and Elizabeth Webster

Report for IP Australia

Firms in design rights-intensive industries spend nearly 50 per cent more on research and development (R&D) than the average Australian firm, are more labour-intensive and are more active in global value chains, as they have high exports and material costs relative to their contribution to economic growth.

In these design rights-intensive industries, holding a registered or certified design right is associated with higher productivity (sales per employee, minus materials and equipment). This effect is greater when the design right is examined and certified. Among all Australian firms, having design rights is a forward indicator of more R&D and more exports. In turn, a firm’s use of design rights is predicted by its R&D and exports and is coupled with the ownership of patents and trade marks.

These results suggest that the value of design rights stems from their use as part of a broader competitive strategy to manage the intangible aspects of products—a strategy highly relevant to globally active firms. Using a survey of 50 000 firms, the study found that design innovators spend more on R&D, are more global in their strategy and compete by innovating products and processes. They rely on all forms of intellectual property (IP) protection, including lead-time advantage, trade secrets and registered IP rights.

We assessed whether past policy changes around design rights contributed to a framework that supports entrepreneurship and economic growth. We found no conclusive evidence that major changes made by the Designs Act 2003 affected either demand for design rights or productivity in Australian firms. Key changes in 2004 included a reduction in the term of protection for designs by six years and the loss of unregistered protection (under copyright) for two-dimensional designs. Neither change affected productivity or the level of design rights use, including in the textile, clothing and footwear industry, which is said to have depended on unregistered protection for designs. The introduction in 2013 of a streamlined court process for resolving design disputes also had no clear impact on the economy.

(2019) Impact of Austrade Tailored Services 2012-16

with Alfons Palangkaraya and Elizabeth Webster

Report for Austrade

Organisations face many challenges when making the decision on entering the export market. One of the most substantial barriers are barriers to information. The firms need to collect information in order to identify potential export markets and partners as well as the characteristics of consumers, market entry procedures and marketing channels. Markets can fail if the signals are hard to interpret. The Australian economy misses out on many opportunities from specialisation and economies of scale due to the challenges facing firms entering new markets. Given the distance of the Australian market, it is critical that these barriers fall.

Various formal and informal solutions to reduce the cost of information and the development of networks have been proposed. Institutions such as embassies and consulates and trade promotion organisations are part of the solution to the market failure, yet existing evidence is not yet robust in regards to the effectiveness of these solutions.

This report summarises the impacts on export sales, likelihood to export and employment for organisations receiving tailored services from Austrade over the period of 2 July 2012 through 30 June 2016. The analysis is based on linked administrative data of service recipients and the ABS BLADE database. The results are compared first to firms receiving general services from Austrade during the same period as well as against the full population of Australian firms.