22 June 2011

Newsflash - Australian Patent Reform Bill Introduced in Senate

Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has introduced the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011 in the Australian Senate.

The Minister's somewhat jingoistically-titled press release, 'IP Reforms to Safeguard Aussie Ideas', can be found here.  (Why is it, we wonder, that IP reforms are always touted as benefiting local innovators, when most countries are bound by international agreements to provide equal access to foreign applicants?  Compare this with the current proposed US reform bill, the 'America Invents' Act.)

Although there was no public feedback (of which we are aware) from IP Australia on submissions received in reply to the exposure draft (see IP Australia's Exposure Draft Exposed!), a quick look over the Bill available from the ParlInfo website indicates that there have been amendments made in response to the submissions of stakeholders.

We have not had time to review the entire Bill as yet, so we will highlight only one change from the exposure draft, which corrects what, in our view, was the biggest single problem with the original draft, namely the transitional provisions for the substantive changes to the standards of patentability (see our big 'thumbs down' at Patent Reform Exposed Part VIII – Transition).

The draft transitional provisions (in Item 39 of Schedule 1 to the draft Bill) would have the higher standards apply not only to applications filed after commencement of the amendments, but also to applications already filed, but on which a first examination report has yet to be issued.

In the Bill as introduced in the Senate, if we are reading it correctly, this provision (Now Item 59 of Schedule 1, combined with amended commencement provisions) the higher standards will apply only to those applications filed more than 12 months after the Act receives the Royal Assent, and those applications already pending for which a request for examination is received after this date.

This will allow ample time for applicants of pending applications to request examination under the existing substantive patentability criteria.

We will report further on the Bill once we have had the chance to digest it properly.

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