Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2012. Once the Government General approves the Bill it will then become law. It’s expected that this won’t take too long and the Australian Trademarks Office (IP Australia) believes it will have an immediate impact on exemptions for research and regulatory approvals.
The ‘Raising the Bar’ Bill is designed to improve and strength the IP System in Australia. It plans to achieve this by:
- Raising the standards and quality for patents to be granted. The new standards under Raising the Bar will more closely align Australia’s standards with international standards. This will also assist inventors and applicants in assessing the likelihood of achieving patent protection outside of Australia;
- Access (at no cost) to inventions for regulatory approvals and research. This will help researchers and generic manufacturers by allowing them to work without having to worry about the possibility of patent infringement allegations or litigation;
- Decreasing delays in connection with both patent and trademark applications. Raising the Bar sees firmer procedures in place for patent and trademark oppositions matters to reduce delays.
- Providing assistance in the operations of IP Professionals. Such professionals (Patent and Trademark Attorneys) will now be allowed to incorporate.
- Focus on trademark and copyright enforcement. Under the new Bill, increased penalties will apply to those found guilty of trademark infringement – again, aligning Australian penalties with those of international trading parties; the Bill will also make it more difficult to import counterfeit products, by improving upon the current Customs system.
- Generally making the IP System easier. This Bill makes the application process simpler and are designed to make the system easier to use on a global scale.
Who stands to Benefit?
- The public generally, by supporting new technologies in certain areas;
- Inventors and innovators, by providing them more confidence in their patent rights;
- Researches by allowing them to conduct their research knowing they won’t face patent infringement allegations;
- Business operators, by reducing some of the complexities of Patent and Trademark applications and by applying the harsher penalties for infringement;
- Attorneys, by allowing them more flexibility in their business structures
All in all, I believe that the The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2012 stands to improve the IP System currently operating in Australia, and may greatly benefit both the public as well as IP rights holders. However, a number of elements of the Bill once it becomes law will see it being more crucial than ever before to carry out trademark searches whenever you plan to place a ‘brand’ to a product or service. As noted above, harsher penalties will be applied to trademark infringement according to the Bill, so carrying out searches before using a new brand will help ensure you are not infringing the rights of others.