The request for comment is part of a push by the ruling Liberal party to eliminate AU$1 billion ($940 million) each year in costs throughout the government. Commenters are encouraged to identify any IP-related rule, regulation or even an application form and explain the cost and suggestions on how to reduce the burden.
A trend toward IP efficiency
One of the benefits of the trend toward the global harmonisation of intellectual property is a lowering of the administrative burden for practitioners. Systems such as the PCT, patent prosecution highways and the Madrid Protocol seek to reduce the amount of unnecessarily repeated work, and IP Australia’s initiative appears to cover some of the same ground on a national level.
Australia is of course not the only country looking to improve its IP system through streamlining and increasing efficiency. The USPTO for example recently announced several executive actions that deputy director Michelle Lee says will reduce red tape and delay. Similarly India has made notable strides in speeding up many procedures such as the lodging of oppositions; whereas a paper opposition may have taken up to a week to be lodged with the office, filings made with the new online system are lodged immediately.
Though long delays and unnecessarily burdensome requirements should be addressed, proposals to increase efficiency can cause problems of their own. In Indonesia for example, the newest draft revision to the Trademark Law looks to publish all applications that have passed a formality examination, rather than just those applications which have passed substantive examination. Practitioners suggest that the purpose is to increase efficiency in two ways - first by allowing the public to act as a filter by letting it review all applications before substantive examination, and second by preventing re-examinations in the event an opposition is filed after substantive examination. However, there is concern that this will actually make it more difficult for rights holders to monitor their marks by increasing the number of marks published.
China is seeing similar challenges. While the new Trademark Law has been generally well-received, one new provision, which looks to speed up the registration process by immediately registering marks that have survived an opposition, is still fairly controversial. Similarly, while rights holders may appreciate the new requirement that the trade mark office complete examinations within nine months of receipt, there is anecdotal evidence that the rush to speed may have resulted in some poorly-reasoned decisions.
Australians (and others), let your voices be heard
Those interested in making suggestions on how to eliminate red tape in Australia’s IP system may send their comments to email@example.com. For Managing IP readers both in and outside of Australia, what are some of the speed-bumps and red tape that you deal with at your local IP office?