Australia: Productivity Committee seeks to Curtail Intellectual Property

by Peter Treloar (AIPPI Australian National Group)

AIPPI Australia has recently lodged a detailed response to the Productivity Commissions Draft Report on Australia’s intellectual property arrangements.

The Productivity Commission issued a lengthy draft report to the Government which took a general “anti” intellectual property position where many IP rights should be significantly curtailed. AIPPI Australia submitted a response strongly disagreeing with many of the Commission’s recommendations. This response was generally in line with many other responses including the Australian Law Council’s response.

The Commission has suggested a number of Intellectual Property curtailment initiatives, including:

  • The test for patent obviousness should be moved to a more difficult level than the highest benchmark it could find in the European obviousness test.
  • Rights holders should be discouraged by introducing excessive renewal and claim fees, and increase Trade Mark multi class fees.
  • A parochial objects clause should be introduced into the Patents Act.
  • The innovation patent system should be abolished.
  • Extension of patent term rights for pharmaceuticals should be curtailed.
  • Patents for software and business methods should be abolished.
  • Copyright terms and geoblocking should be curtailed.
  • Mandatory disclaimers for Trade Mark holders should be introduced.
  • Elimination of defensive trade marks for well known marks.
  • Full competition law should be applied to IP rights.
  • Australia’s entry into International Treaties in the IP space should be restricted.

AIPPI Australia’s response submission outlined objections to the proposed reforms in their detrimental international operation and their divergence from international norms. Further, AIPPI Australia pointed out the recommendations likely divergence from many international agreement obligations, including those under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), World Trade Organisation agreements (TRIPS), and Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

After holding hearings, the Productivity Commission is due to finalise its report to the Government in September, 2016.