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Australia: Productivity Commission releases anti-IP report

The Australian Productivity Commission has finalised the release of its lengthy report into the IP system.

The report appears to have been written by economists with little background in the operation of IP law and is driven by the imperative of providing IP rights at a minimal cost to society, rather than the need to embrace risk and experimentation by inventors and entrepreneurs.

To this end, the report seems to desire to minimise the extent and reach of IP rights, and includes such recommendations as abolishing the innovation patent system; introducing an objects clause to the Patents Act which is likely to provide fertile ground for litigants to test; severely curtailing the ability to obtain extensions of term for pharmaceutical patents; raising the inventive step requirements to the highest level that the Commission could find in use; and reworking renewal and patent office fees to limit the long-term viability of maintaining patent applications.

Interestingly, the Commission's previous position for the wholesale abolition of software patents has been excised from the report.

Unfortunately, it is likely the report may gain significant acceptance by the Australian government, leading to Australia adopting positions that are out of line with the global norm. This is unfortunate, as the report has the mark of the efficient market theorist, seeking to restrict the cost of IP rights to society as a prime imperative. The notion that inventors and entrepreneurs should be encouraged as highly valued members of modern society is sadly lacking.

Peter Treloar

Shelston IP

Level 21, 60 Margaret Street

Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Tel: +61 2 9777 1111

Fax: +61 2 9241 4666

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