One of the biggest changes in Australian Patent and Trademark law, created and shepherded by the Australian Patent Office has now taken effect in Australia.

Whilst the Patent Office received a flood of application just before the changes came into effect, the new provisions are now in force. The significant changes include:

  • a change in the obviousness standard to a European centric approach;
  • a toughening of the utility standard;
  • enhancing of the fair basis or disclosure requirements, again moving closer to the European standard;
  • a reduction in time frames for examination;
  • and the streamlining of opposition procedures for both patents and trade marks, with a reduction in allowable extensions of time to file evidence.

The Office's motivation seems to be to strongly align Australian practice with a European Patent Office approach to intellectual property, without necessarily considering the consequence of such an approach. The value of aligning the IP system with a major economic block has perhaps outweighed any consideration of the deficiencies of operation of the European system.

Whilst the Patent Office motivations are evident, it remains to be seen if our courts will be so compliant in diverging from their own jurisprudence on such fundamental aspects of our patent system.

This article was first published in Managing Intellectual Property magazine, June 2013.