Discussion Paper Released for Patents Accessibility Review
The Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has commissioned a Patents Accessibility Review with a view to ensuring that the standard patent system is as accessible as possible to Australia’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
As earlier reported the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 26th February 2020. From the perspective of SME’s the provision of most relevance in that legislation was the initiation of the phasing out of innovation patents – with the last date for filing an innovation patent in the first instance being 26th August 2021. There were differing opinions as to whether the innovation patent system was overall beneficial for or detrimental to the ability of SMEs to innovate. In order to obtain sufficient support for the legislation the Government agreed to conduct a review into the accessibility of the standard patents system for SMEs.
Following direct consultation with specific SMEs, patent attorneys, IP lawyers, judges, finance consultants and brokers, the current consultation is focussed around the following questions, with responses required by 31st October 2020:
- Are the official fees set by IP Australia a barrier for SMEs?
- Are the professional fees for patent attorneys and IP lawyers a barrier for SMEs? Are professional fees good value for money?
- Are IP Australia’s processing times reasonable, noting that expedited examination is available?
- Is the support offered by the Australian Government on patents useful for SMEs? How can these resources better reach SMEs?
- Is the fear of litigation putting small businesses off patenting?
- Is the fear of litigation well founded? Is enforcement actually that difficult and expensive?
- How could enforcement be made more accessible? Is it possible for costs to be contained at certain points?
- How and when can SMEs best be encouraged to consider patents as part of their commercialisation and broader IP plans?
- Do you have any other comments on the issues raised in this paper, or on any other barriers that may hinder SMEs from accessing the patent system? Do you have any other suggestions for initiatives to improve accessibility?
Author: Quinn Miller