More quick news: the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill passed Parliament yesterday. This won’t really surprise observers: it was pretty clear that while there are plenty of people in the profession jumping up and down about various provisions in the Act, this was always going to pass. A full summary of the effect of the provisions from IP Australia is available here. A quick list is over the fold.

Among other things, the Act:

  1. makes various amendments in relation to the public availability of documents held by IP Australia in relation to trade mark applications. Basically, the Act inserts provisions which enable the Registrar to require that specified information in a document that has been or is to be filed be held by the office inconfidence and subject to such conditions as the Registrar prescribes;
  2. introduces the concept of additional damages for patent infringement (ie, extra damages for flagrant infringement) (although interestingly, not trade mark);
  3. amends and broadens the ‘prior use’ defence to patent, and allows a prior user to assign (but not license) their prior use rights;
  4. amends the ‘springboarding’ provisions, so that a generic manufacturer can now make limited exploitation of a patented pharmaceutical with a view to getting marketing approval from the TGA for the entire term of the patent (not just any extension of term). This brings Australian law into line with springboarding laws overseas, but may not be all that useful (or may be less useful) given data exclusivity provisions (pharmaceutical patentees get 5 years of ‘data exclusivity’ on clinical data submitted to the TGA, and no equivalent to the springboarding provision exists there).
  5. Gives the trade marks registrar further powers to revoke trade marks
  6. provides for compulsory licensing of patents as a remedy if a person has contravened the anti-competitive conduct provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974