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TM Embed


Less than 5% of Small Business (SBs) in Australia take out formal intellectual property protection, with many small business owners putting themselves at risk due to a lack of awareness about the need for Intellectual Property, especially at the point of establishing their business. TM Embed aims to engage these small businesses at critical points of their business journey by building awareness, educating them about trade marks, and simplifying the way in which they engage with the trade ma

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Small businesses are a vital component of the Australian economy, however less than 5% of Small Business (SBs) have formal trade mark protection. Many small businesses adopt brands without first understanding the importance of trade marks for their businesses. This can often pose rebranding and litigation risks if their brand conflicts with one already in market, as well as lost opportunities to distinguish their brand for customers and protect the value of their brand. This issue is more pertinent than ever, with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in many small businesses moving online, where brand and identity is critical. We heard from business owners first hand that they are often unaware of trade marks, do not understand the risks or benefits of trade mark protection, or consider them too complex and expensive.


So, we set off with a mission to educate and empower small business owners to make deliberate business decisions about what was right for them in terms of their trade mark needs. Welcome TM Embed: an AI-assisted trade mark self-service tool, embedded at must-use business partner touch points. TM Embed aims to engage these small businesses at critical points of their business journey by building their awareness, educating them about trade marks, and simplifying the way in which they engage with the trade mark system through our easy to use tool. We do this by working with partners who service these businesses at these critical points, to introduce and socialise relevant content, and direct these user to our free and easy to use trade mark check and registration tool. Small businesses themselves can now search whether their brand name is available for free and apply themselves, all within 15 minutes. This can help equip small businesses with the confidence to decide whether a trade mark is right for them.


And the goal to TM embed was to democratise access to intellectual property protection and make it 10 times easier for small business owners to access brand protection.


The team tackled three jobs to be done throughout our build.

- Maximise reach and awareness with the approximately 666 thousand existing SMEs and 108K yearly business target for IP protection

- Educating the right SMEs at the right time in their start-up journey and help them understand the benefits for them-

- Help self-filers start and succeed with their IP applications


New business owners who have never engaged with IP rights previously are the biggest beneficiaries of the TM embed tool. In the short 6 months of development, we saw over 100 new small businesses engage with our tool and submit an application, adding further value and protection to their brand/business portfolio.


We are excited about the strategic and economic benefits that this project will bring in the future. First, we see TM embed capturing an additional 154 thousand new trade mark application over the next 5 years, tripling IP Australia’s annual growth of TM application to date. The tool also provides an additional “always-on” channel for IP Australia to engage with and educate users of our systems.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The product is a digital first approach to a currently under-served segment of Australian businesses. The AI-assisted tool expands the degree to which users have visibility of the trade mark application process; it has semantic search to help users find the relevant goods and services for them and their brand; and it applies a ‘bucketing approach’ to help the AI compare like trade marks with like. It is also a new approach to partnering with third party businesses who often have relevant touchpoints for Australian small to medium enterprises than IP Australia.

What is the current status of your innovation?

The innovation ranged over multiple phases of the innovation process, starting with identifying new opportunities, generating ideas, validating and testing proposals, then implementing an innovation through a rigorous and disciplined process of structured iterative learning. The product is currently in pilot, having finished the incubation phase in September 2022.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

IP Australia contracted with Boston Consulting Group’s Digital Ventures arm to help build out IP Australia’s internal innovation capability by establishing a new team, and the first product delivered to market was TM Embed. In addition, the team worked with a number of third party platforms that provide business services to SMEs in order to reach new audiences with the tool, tailoring context and information appropriate to their context.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries


1. Early stage checker: this audience benefits from using the check to make better brand choices. The tool helps them understand whether or when trade marks are right for them & gives them confidence to self-file when ready.

2. First-time filer: business owners whose first engagement with the IP rights system is through the tool. This audience is seeking peace of mind that their brand will be protected & benefits from easily self-filing their intellectual property without a costly investment.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

To date, almost 100 small business owners who did not have intellectual property protection have engaged with TM Embed and submitted applications to add a trade mark to their business portfolio and over 9 thousand have used it to check a trade mark availability.


It is forecasted that this impact will continue to scale over the next 5 years as more partnerships are achieved and as the capabilities of the tool continue to mature.


The tool has provided a new way of engaging with third party must-use business services and platforms that have a much wider reach with small businesses than IP Australia. By providing a tangible and interactive functionality, it serves as a substantive way of more deeply engaging with existing educational content.


The development of the tool has introduced new technical capabilities in a digital first tool targeted towards customers.

Challenges and Failures

The applied methodology reduced the risks of failure by having a clear set of hypotheses and identified proof points along with regular decision points and two major stage-gates for the agency’s leadership. The primary challenges involved included ensuring broader agency comfort and understanding of the risks involved with this new approach and the speed of the development. The team undertook significant consultation and engagement with relevant areas to help reduce concerns, however in the push for momentum and rapid decision-making, a degree of consultation was traded off. This meant the lessons learned from previous ideas and projects were not fully absorbed/acknowledged, increasing resentment of the “new”.

Conditions for Success

The innovation process benefited from:

- Extensive senior leader sponsorship, with regular meetings of a Venture Board to consider and steer the project

- A committed and willing team that was prepared to learn and adopt new ways of working and new skills

- Active engagement from other parts of the agency, including sharing of domain-specific expertise on trade marks

- Support from corporate areas to try and do things differently and quickly.


There are elements of the tool that we think are likely to be relevant to other patent/intellectual property offices, such as the ‘bucketing’ component (which makes it easier to compare like trade marks with like).


At a broader level, the underlying approach of working with third parties to extend the reach and to bring relevant information to small businesses, may also have broader relevance and value to others.

Lessons Learned

Align with business processes, but do not follow blindly.


Look to involve and engage interested staff early on so as to help understand potential issues and to allow them to be ambassadors for the work with their peers.


Having a dedicated innovation team with different ways of working can be an excellent mechanism for quickly developing a new approach, however such an approach requires ongoing leadership support and oversight (at least initially) and a willingness to ‘follow the evidence’ and see where the innovation process (structured learning to test and reduce uncertainties) takes you.

Year: 2022
Level of Government: National/Federal government


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Developing Proposals - turning ideas into business cases that can be assessed and acted on
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

Innovation provided by:


Date Published:

16 November 2022

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