Australia’s innovation patent system is championed by IP professionals and small to medium enterprises, but has been by under fire from the Productivity Commission for some time on the basis that the system was viewed as producing low value patents and created uncertainty for innovators in relation to infringement of other party’s patents. As a result, the threat of eventual repeal by Government loomed large as the Productivity Commission recommended abolishing the innovation patent system, a recommendation accepted by the Government in late 2017.

However, on 28 March, IP Australia indicated that “the Government has decided to undertake further consultation targeted at better understanding the needs of innovative SMEs before the phase out of the innovation patent occurs.” Consistent with this, the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 1 and Other Measures) Bill 2018 currently before the Parliament for consideration does not include amendments to abolish the innovation patent system.

Perhaps the recent rounds of submissions from users of the system and interested stakeholders to the Productivity Commission may have swayed opinion in favour of keeping the system, and just what “further consultation” the Government is referring to in their public statement remains unclear at this point.

As many interested readers will know, the innovation patent system operates to give SMEs quick and cost-effective access to Australia’s IP rights system, and provide a shorter term of monopoly (8 years) and require a lower level of innovation (and innovative step) compared to a standard patent (which provides 20 years of monopoly and required an inventive step).

In keeping with the Australian maxim of a fair go for all, many inventors and companies keen to have access to Australia’s innovation patent system can be confident that the innovation patent system will be available to them for a little while longer and might just hold out when the Government makes its final decision whether or not to repeal it in the future.