Earlier this year, the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2014 (2014 Bill) was introduced into Parliament by the Coalition Government. The Bill represents a revised version of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2013 (2013 Bill) introduced by the previous Labor Government. The 2013 Bill lapsed when the Federal Election was called in August 2013.
The most significant aspects of the 2014 Bill are as follows:
- Introduction of a single patent attorney regulatory regime and a single patent application and examination process for Australia and New Zealand.
- Enabling Australian pharmaceutical manufacturers to apply to the Federal Court for a compulsory licence to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs to supply to developing countries.
In accordance with the so-called ‘Integrated Patent Examination’, patent applications filed in both countries will be examined by a single examiner from either IP Australia or the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand. It will, remain the case that separate patents are granted in both jurisdictions.
The single regulatory regime introduces a unified registration process, register, code of conduct and disciplinary process for both Australian and New Zealand patent attorneys.
On 25 September, the 2014 Bill took a step closer to becoming law following resumption of second reading in the House of Representatives. Unsurprisingly, the 2014 Bill drew support from the now Labor opposition and we would expect it to pass the House of Representatives before the end of this year.