Paul Grant, interviewed by Tom Spurling and Terry Healy, 10 July 2018

By September 16th, 2018

Edited transcript (PDF – 455 KB)

Interview summary

Paul Grant was born in China on 13 September 1934, the son of an Australian missionary. In the first part of the interview, Paul Grant talks about his early life in China during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). He observes that an emphasis on English grammar and expression stood him in good stead for his later career.

The family returned to Australia after the War and Paul commenced a course in Electrical Engineering at the then Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT University). He graduated in 1956 with a Fellowship Diploma of Electrical Engineering from the Royal Melbourne Technical College, taught there for two years until he obtained a position with Messrs. Clement Hack & Co., Patent Attorneys of Melbourne, first as a technical assistant and then as a patent attorney.

Paul discusses his decade-long career as a patent attorney in Australia, the US and the UK. His first position was with Clement Hack &Co in Melbourne. He recounts how he could not persuade an Australian firm to stop paying royalties to a US firm to use a patent that the US firm had no Australian protection! He gives further examples of what he calls ‘Australian timidity’. He describes his US experience as an in-house patent attorney, with FMC (was the Food Machinery Corporation) Corporation in San Jose. He worked briefly a patent attorney firm in Brighton, UK before returning to Sydney as a senior patent attorney with Philips Industries Pty Ltd.

Paul joined CSIRO in 1965, as its first patent attorney, to have general oversight of the patenting of CSIRO inventions. He recounts in some detail his insights into the successes and failures of the Organisation’s approach to technology transfer. This includes a discussion on the role of the technology transfer company SIROtech.

In the final part of the interview, Paul gives his views on the future role of the Organisation in the modern innovation system.


Interview recorded at Swinburne University of Technology (Hawthorn campus) on 10 July 2018 as part of the CSIRO History Project.


Copyright owned by Swinburne University of Technology and CSIRO. Some re-use permitted (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND)