Australian Intellectual Property Laws – Path Breaking Changes

Australian Intellectual Property Laws – Path Breaking Changes

The Australian Government has spelt out in categorical terms, the route it intends to take to strengthen the country’s innovation policy. It should be remembered that the Productivity Commission some time back had placed its recommendations for perusal which had not been taken too kindly by innovators. It was thought then that the recommendations would strike a blow against Australia’s them. The law regarding intellectual property rights it was felt needed to be changed. The Government took up the matter in right earnest and now has come out with a set of proposals it wants to implement over time. However, nothing is being finalised as of now. Shelston IP will review the Governments response and prepare submissions to initiate the public consultation process.

The following are some of the points agreed by the Government of Australia in response to the enquiries by the Productivity Council of intellectual property rights in Australia.

The main points are –

  • Decision to reduce the waiting period, that is the time that must lapse before a trademark can be challenged for not being used. This is a positive point in the right direction as the time restriction in force before was considered more than necessary. This will surely facilitate new innovators to register their intellectual rights sooner in specific fields.

  • Changes to be made in the inventive step threshold for patents. This would be done in a manner that will bring it on par with the European Patent Office

  • The Patents Act to be amended to introduce an objects clause.

  • The innovation patent system would be gradually phased out and new methods structured to replace it

  • Changes to be made in plant breeders’ rights whereby their scope of essentially derived variety declarations would be increased

  • The availability of parallel importation of trademarked goods would be improved.

However, one thing is very obvious from the publication of what the Government intends to do. Unlike laws that govern property laws and the work of a property conveyancer which are very specific the Government wants to be flexible about intellectual property rights. This is why it has decided not to accept the recommendations of the Productivity Council on restricting term extensions for pharmaceutical patents. For more on property rights contact P&B Law.

The next step from here for the Australian Government would be to release public consultation papers on the proposed changes, introduce draft legislation on the innovative patent system and insert an objects clause in the existing Patents Act.

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