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Do an intellectual property search

Before you purchase the rights to intellectual property such as copyright, patents and designs, you can search the PPSR to check if there are security interests registered against it.

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Why do a PPSR IP search?

It's a good idea to always check the PPSR before you before you buy intellectual property (IP) or lend money to someone using IP as collateral.

Note: Security interests

When you do a search, it will tell you if the IP you're about to but has a security interest registered against it meaning there could be money owing on it.

If there is money owing on it, it can be repossessed.If you buy rights to IP with money owing and the seller stops making repayments, the person who is owed the debt (such as a bank) may be able to repossess your rights to the IP.

You’ll also get a search certificate which you can use as a legal record of your results.

What IP can you search against?

A security interest can be registered against any IP. However, some IP can be registered against its serial number including:

  • a design
  • a patent
  • a plant breeder’s right
  • a trade mark.

Security interests in IP can be registered against the serial number or against the organisation or individual who granted the interest (the grantor). For example, a security interest taken over copyright can't be registered against its serial number so would be registered against the person granting the interest in the copyright.

Therefore, it might be helpful to also do a search on the individual or organisation you're thinking of purchasing the intellectual property from. Any registration in the IP is likely not just over the IP itself but over all of the assets of the grantor (this will show as collateral class 'all present and after acquired property').

To find out more, see Individual search and Organisation search.

Note:

If you are looking to take a security interest over IP you will need to also do a search over the grantor to ensure you find all possible security interests. If you do a search and locate a registration over all of the present and after acquired property of the grantor, this could also potentially include their IP.

Tip - the PPSR is not a register of IP, only of security interests registered over IP. To find out more about intellectual property or do a search to see if an idea, invention or brand is available, go to the IP Australia website.

What a PPSR search costs

A search can be done two ways:

  • Online self-service: $2.00
  • Assisted phone service: $7.00

You can pay using a credit card or debit card.

What you need to do a search

To do an IP search, you’ll need:

  • a credit or debit card and
  • the serial number of the intellectual property.

Serial number

To do an IP search on the PPSR you’ll need to enter a serial number. Depending on the type of IP you’re searching, this will be the:

  • design number
  • patent number
  • plant breeder’s right number
  • trade mark number.

These serial numbers are issued by IP Australia when you apply for, are awarded or hold a licence over the IP rights.

It’s important to use the right serial number when you do your search. The search won’t give you a description of the IP – it will only tell you if there’s a security interest registered against the serial number you entered. If you don’t use the right serial number, you may not be protected by searching the PPSR.

When to search

You should do a PPSR search immediately before you intend to buy the rights to an IP asset or use it to secure lending. This means you’ll get the most up-to-date information and you'll be reducing the risk of losing your interest. See Purchaser protections for more information about the protection a PPSR search offers.

The person selling the IP or using it as collateral might do their own search and give you a PPSR search certificate. You can verify this online for free, although you may consider doing a new search for $2 to make sure you're protected as the search results won't be updated.

To find out how see Get a copy of a search result.

Start your PPSR intellectual property search now

How to do an IP search

You don't have to have a PPSR account to do an IP search. However, if you do have one you can log into your account before you start.

To do a PPSR IP search, go to the PPSR intellectual property search page, then:

  1. Enter the intellectual property serial number.
  2. If you'd like to include a reference number for your own records, enter this in the Client billing reference field.
  3. Review your search criteria and if it's correct select Next.
  4. Enter your payment details. You can pay by credit or debit card.
  5. Enter your email address to be sent the tax invoice. Select Next.
  6. You'll now see a Search result summary. Select View certificate to download and open your search certificate and find your detailed search results. You can also select Email certificate to have the search results emailed to you.
  7. Save your search certificate somewhere safe. This is your legal record of your search.

Your search results

When you’ve done your search, you’ll get a PPSR search certificate. This will show you all the security interests registered on the PPSR against the serial number you’ve searched for. The PPSR search certificate is a legal record.

The certificate can be emailed to you or viewed on screen and saved as a PDF. You can get a copy of your search certificate at a later date at no additional cost.

No PPSR registrations

Look at your search certificate under the heading ‘PPSR Registration Details’:

If your certificate says:

‘There is no security interest or other registration kind registered on the PPSR against the serial number in the search criteria details.

This means no one has a current registered security interest on the PPSR against the serial number you searched for.

PPSR registrations

If your certificate shows any ‘PPSR registration’ details, this means someone has registered their security interest on the PPSR. This means someone claims to have an interest in the intellectual property, such as a secured creditor.

The details of the secured party who have the interest will appear here. The PPSR won't tell you the value of any security interests or debts.

If you'd like more information about the security interest, you can contact the seller directly or the secured party using the address for service details provided on the certificate.

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