Australian inventions can now be accessed online

Tuesday, 24 May, 2011


Andrew Brown McKenzie is not a household name, yet he has saved thousands of lives. He witnessed serious accidents caused by trains that took an age to slow down and stop, and in 1904 he invented what became known as the Westinghouse Air Brake - the first invention to be granted an Australian patent.

McKenzie’s work, and the work of numerous other Aussie inventors, can now be accessed online thanks to the latest addition to AusPat, a database of patent records dating back to that first patent issued under Commonwealth legislation.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the new information would help modern-day innovators by making it easier to find patented inventions and provide a pool of priceless information for everyone interested in our nation’s history.

“Australia has a rich history of innovation and this excellent tool delivers better access to this important information,” Senator Carr said.

“Records for iconic Australian inventions, such as David Unaipon’s 1909 patent for the shearing handpiece featured on the Australian $50 note, can now be located with the easy-to-use search tool deemed one of the best in the world.

“When Andrew Brown McKenzie filed that first Australian patent in 1904, he could never have envisaged that his patent record, and the records of thousands of other Australian innovators, could be accessed so easily more than 100 years later.

“McKenzie’s work on the railways led him to identify a problem with train brakes and a way to overcome it. His patent - improvements in air leak preventative for Westinghouse and like brakes - helped railway workers and passengers alike.

“One hundred and seven years later, Australian innovators are still changing lives with modern-day inventions like Gardasil and the CSIRO’s Wi-Fi technology.

“AusPat offers a significant improvement on the old process which had people searching through a myriad of paper, microfiche and electronic systems. The tool will save modern Australian inventors time and effort as they can easily search the inventions that have come before them,” Senator Carr said.

AusPat has data from over 7300 books, 620,000 microfiche films and more than 37 million documents.

To access the AusPat search system, visit www.ipaustralia.gov.au.

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