The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement between 12 Pacific-rim countries including Australia will potentially lead to liberalisation of trade and investment between these countries.  The agreement still needs to be ratified by the governments of each of the countries that were parties of that agreement.  This agreement, once ratified, will effect the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in each of the countries.

One provision of particular interest to companies and individuals seeking patent protection internationally is the provisions under Article 18.38 which provides for a grace period for patents in respect of public disclosures. 

More specifically, the Article provides that;

‘Each Party shall disregard at least information obtained in public disclosures used to determine if an invention is novel or has an inventive step, if the public disclosure:

  1. made by the patent applicant or by a person that obtained the information directly or indirectly from the patent applicant; and
  2. occurred within 12 months prior to the date of the filing of the patent application in the territory of the Party.’

While Australia already has such grace period provisions under the Australia Patents Act 1990, this provision will now potentially be extended to all of the countries that were parties to the TPP agreement.

The 12 countries that are parties to the agreement comprise Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam.