Yesterday, the Competition Policy Review Panel released its Draft Report on the effectiveness of Australia’s current competition policy and laws, and its recommendations for the promotion of competition across the economy.

Our colleagues over at In Competition published this brief post here and a more detailed alert here, focusing on the broader aspects of competition policy reform canvassed in the report.

The draft report reminds us that our friends at In Competition really should be our best friends, given the impact of the intellectual property regime on innovation, trade and competition policy. IP and competition law are complementary, both being directed towards improving economic welfare.

However, there is a fine line in IP policy between allowing authors and inventors to exploit and obtain a financial reward for their creativity and inventions (providing an incentive to innovate), and allowing information to be freely disseminated (which the draft report observes is more efficient).

In this context, the Panel has made recommendations in three key areas in respect of IP. We have set out a brief overview of the recommendations (and the Panel’s underlying rationale) below:

Click here to view the table

In assessing whether our current competition policies, laws and institutions remain fit for purpose, the Panel had regard to three major forces affecting the Australian economy –

  • the rise of Asia,
  • our ageing population, and
  • how new technologies are disrupting the way many markets operate, the way business is done and the way consumers engage with markets.

The Panel also noted the challenge for policy-makers in capturing the benefits of this “digital disruption” while preserving traditional safeguards for consumers. The Panel’s recommendation of a framework-style review of the interaction between IP and competition laws should be considered in this context.

If you’re interested in some light bed-time reading (or is that just us?), the 307-page draft report can be accessed here.

Submissions on the Draft Report (in particular, on Part 2 – Draft Recommendations) are invited and due on Monday 17 November 2014.