21 September 2010

IP Australia to "Sponsor" TV Invention Program Final

IP Australia, the government authority comprising the Patent, Trade Marks and Designs Offices, has today announced that it "is proud to sponsor the Grand Final of the ABC’s New Inventors, 8.30pm Thursday 23 September on ABC1."

New Inventors describes itself thus:

The New Inventors' is all about inventions and inventors.  Each week three totally new, never before seen inventions are demonstrated, examined, prodded, pushed, pulled and occasionally dropped by host James O'Loghlin. Their inventors are then subjected to a barrage of questions by the three member judging panel. At the end of the show the judges choose a winner, who may advance to the show's grand final at the end of the year.
The connection between IP Australia and New Inventors is a natural one, although for patent attorneys it can be either depressing or cringeworthy to watch hopeful inventors parade their unprotected inventions on national television each week!

We do wonder, however, about the precise nature of this so-called "sponsorship".  Without wishing to take over the role of Media Watch, many readers will be aware that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a non-commercial, government-funded broadcaster which is subject to restrictions on its ability to accept funding in exchange for promotional consideration.  On the other hand, the ABC is expressly permitted by Section 25(5)(a) of the ABC Act to receive funds from the Commonwealth, State or Territory Governments or their authorities for the production and broadcast of particular programs or announcements.

We are confident that the arrangement is above board, but perhaps "sponsorship" is not the most appropriate word in the circumstances!  No doubt IP Australia is, in fact, proud to perform services, provide facilities and/or pay monies, within the meaning of Section 25(5)(a) of the ABC Act 1983, to support the production of the Grand Final of the ABC's New Inventors! 

Admittedly, "sponsor" is more concise.

In any event, we wish the finalists the best of luck, and hope that the winner is one of the few to have actually taken action to protect their intellectual property before broadcasting it to the world!

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