The Australian Government Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) is calling for submissions to its co-pending inquiries into the innovation patent system and the designs system.

Some radical options have been proposed including the abolition of Australia’s second tier patent system altogether. This is an opportunity for stakeholders to have a say in influencing intellectual property law in Australia in two areas that are comparatively unconstrained by international norms and potentially at risk of radical overhaul.

Review of the innovation patent system

In August, ACIP released its Options Paper in its ongoing review of the innovation patent system. ACIP appears to have taken over the apparently politically driven review process that was surprisingly announced by IP Australia in September 2012.

The options proposed by ACIP cover the whole spectrum of options from abolition of the innovation patent system altogether to taking a ‘wait and see’ approach as to what effect the recent Raising the Bar amendments will have on use of the innovation patent system.Included among the reforms proposed for discussion are:

  • raising the level of innovation required for a valid innovation patent (ie possibly requiring the same inventive step threshold as a standard patent)
  • reducing available remedies for innovation patents compared to standard patents; or
  • changing the process; eg by making examination / certification compulsory.

The closing date for submissions in response to the Options Paper is 4 October 2013.

Review of the designs system

This is the first major review of designs law in Australia since the Designs Act 2003 came into force in June 2004 and is a key opportunity for input for affected parties.

ACIP has been directed to inquire, report and make recommendations to the Australian Government on the operation and effectiveness of the designs regime in supporting innovation.

The first publication in the inquiry, the Issues Paper, was released in early September 2013. It calls for stakeholder comments on any aspect of the current designs system, including deficiencies and options for reform. Some of the reform options proposed are likely to be of particular interest to the fast-moving design industries, in particular whether Australia should mirror the UK and Europe by introducing an unregistered design right or an option to defer publication of registered designs.

The closing date for submissions is 31 October 2013.