In a submission to the Governments Pharmaceutical Patents Review [PDF], the peak body representing Australian registered patent attorneys, the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia (IPTA) has accused the Terms of Reference for the review, and the composition of the review panel, of being biased towards the interests of generic drug manufacturers. IPTA has also criticised the timing of the review and the short period provided for public submissions, and alleged that the overall conduct of the review sends a ‘negative message to the research-based pharmaceutical industry’.
IPTA’s complaints have been fully supported by a submission [PDF] made on behalf of the Australian Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI Australia).
I have written about this latest review of the patent system on two previous occasions – firstly when it was initially announced, and then again when the ‘Background and Suggested Issues Paper’ was released. I expressed similar concerns to those of IPTA regarding the limited two-month period for public submissions, particularly considering that this spanned Christmas and the New Year, when many Australians take annual holidays and some companies – and all Australian universities – have official ‘close-down’ periods.
I was also concerned about the impact of yet another review, when it seems that the Australian patent system has been under incessant review and reform for a number of years, and particularly considering that the broad Terms of Reference for the Pharmaceutical Patents Review overlap with other recent and ongoing enquiries relating to patentable subject matter, the use of innovation patents, gene patenting, and compulsory licensing. One might form the impression that somebody is determined to keep reviewing the system from different angles until they eventually get the answers they want, whatever those might be!