Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Bill 2019

I thank my fellow senators for their contributions to this debate. I'd also like to thank all the stakeholders who contributed to the consultation we engaged in for the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Bill 2019. We value the important contributions made by the industry, the research sector, and intellectual property legal practitioners.

The intellectual property system is an important part of the economy, because it encourages the development of new technologies, products and markets. It helps to drive the innovation research that leads to improvements in the technology, jobs and growth that benefit all of us in Australia. In 2015 the government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of Australia's IP system. This included copyright, trademarks, patents, designs and plant breeders' rights. The government responded in August 2017 and decided to address the recommendations relating to registered rights through two packages of legislative reform. The legislation implementing part 1 of the government's response to the Productivity Commission inquiry concerning trademarks and plant breeders' rights received royal assent on 24 August 2018.

This bill contains the second suite of changes to address recommendations regarding the patent system. These changes will ensure that our patent system provides an appropriate balance between the rights of patent owners and the interests of the general public. The proposed legislation will ensure that the patents system remains adaptable and fit for purpose as new technologies and innovations are developed in the future. It'll improve the transparency and accountability of the Crown use of patent technology and designs and provide greater clarity and certainty for applicants and patent owners in compulsory licensing matters, ensuring that the interests of the patent owner and the public are considered. The proposed legislation will also streamline and modernise aspects of the intellectual property system, improving efficiency and reducing regulatory costs for Australian business.

This bill was reviewed by the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, which, on 4 September, tabled its report recommending that the bill be passed. The government thanks the committee for its report. We also note that as part of this review Senator Patrick, from the Centre Alliance party, recommended that the provisions repealing the innovation patent be removed from the bill. The government notes this recommendation but does not agree with it. Evidence available to the government indicates that the innovation patent system is harming innovative businesses and failing to meet its objectives to incentivise innovation amongst small and medium enterprises. Our goal is to support Australia's small businesses to make the most of their innovative efforts and help address the complexity and expense the IP system can present to those businesses.

In conclusion, the intellectual property system plays an important role in our economy. It assists Australian businesses to commercialise their ideas and compete effectively in the global marketplace. This bill will help ensure that Australia's intellectual property system remains fit for purpose into the future and balances the needs of innovators and users of technologies with those of the general public too.

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