On 9 February 2015, the Australian Senate agreed to a third reading of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2014.Eagle eyed readers may recognize this bill as the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill *2013* which was stalled due to a Federal Election being held in September 2013. However, the 2014 bill is largely the same in content as the 2013 bill save for changes relating to Crown Use being dropped from the bill.
The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2014 focuses on 5 areas which were not addressed in the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (“Raising the Bar”) Act 2012 and also seeks to clarify some of the ‘Raising the Bar’ provisions on each of the Patents Act 1990, Trade Marks Act 1995, Designs Act 2003 and the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994.
The bill, having passed through the Senate will receive Royal assent shortly.
An outline of the changes is provided below.
Schedule 1—TRIPS Protocol interim waiver
Schedule 2—TRIPS Protocol: later commencing amendments
The bill proposes amendments to the Patents Act 1990 to allow Australian pharmaceutical manufacturers apply to the Federal Court for a compulsory license to manufacture generic versions of patented medicines (under specific conditions) and export these medicines to developing countries. Compensation for the patent holder will be negotiated, although there appears to be no indication who will negotiate adequate compensation or how such negotiation will occur.
Schedule 3—Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994: Federal Circuit Court
A proposed amendment to allow the Federal Circuit Court (previously known as the Federal Magistrates Court) to deal with PBR infringement matters. Aim is to be a cheaper and faster option than the Federal Court.
Schedule 4—Australia New Zealand Single Economic Market
A single patent Examination model is proposed such that if separate patent applications for the same invention are filed in both Australia and New Zealand, then both applications are examined by a single examiner in either Australia or New Zealand (but taking account of the separate national laws).
Proposed implementation of a bilateral arrangement between the Australian and New Zealand governments for the trans-Tasman regulation of patent attorneys in both Australia and New Zealand. Effectively this will allow for a single register of patent attorneys, a single set of qualifications for registration, a single governing Board and single Disciplinary tribunal.
As part of this, the requirement that an individual seeking registration as a patent attorney be ordinarily resident in Australia will be repealed.
Schedule 5—Other Amendments
The bill proposes administrative changes to the Patents, Trade Marks and the Designs Acts to repeal document retention provisions which currently require IP Australia to physically retain patent, trade marks and designs documents for a certain period of time (25 years in some cases).
This bill also proposes a number of technical amendments to the Patents Act to address oversights in the drafting of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012.