The Productivity Commission will shortly commence a 12 month wholesale review of Australia’s intellectual property regime. The Government has recognised that with a rapidly changing global economy and new technologies, there is a need to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between intellectual property protection and competition. The review was recommended in the extensive Harper Report on Competition Policy, which noted that excessive intellectual property protection can ‘not only discourage adoption of new technologies but also stifle innovation’.
Although there have been a number of independent reviews of aspects of the Australian intellectual property system in recent years, this is the first comprehensive review since 2000.
The Commission will:
- Examine the effect of the scope and duration of protection afforded by the current system on:
- Research and innovation, including freedom to build on existing innovation;
- Access to and cost of goods and services; and
- Competition, trade and investment.
- Recommend changes to the current system which will encourage creativity, investment and new innovation while not unduly stifling access to technologies and creative works.
The Commission will undertake its inquiry in light of a number of specified considerations including:
- Australia’s existing international obligations and trade agreements, and their impact on the Australian economy;
- The intellectual property arrangements of Australia’s top trading partners and their experiences in meeting the needs of modern economies;
- Australia’s laws regarding parallel importation under both the Copyright and Trade Marks Acts;
- The desire to maintain incentives and assistance for intellectual property development; and
- The relative contribution of imported and Australian produced intellectual property.
We can also expect the Commission to address issues such as different regional pricing strategies (particularly by software vendors), fair use under the Copyright Act, the value of the innovation patent regime and the continuing impact of the digital economy.
The Final Report will be due in August 2016.