The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced into Parliament today.
The changes include:
- amendments to the Crown use provisions in the Patents Act to ensure they apply where the relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory government has primary responsibility for funding or providing the service and to include a requirement for approval by the relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory Attorney-General
- implementation of the TRIPS protocol to enable generics to apply to the Federal Court for a compulsory licence to manufacture a patented drug for export to developing countries experiencing a serious public health problem (or, as the EM puts it, a Health Crisis) to which the drug relates
- conferring jurisdiction over plant varieties rights matters on the Federal Circuit Court (formerly the Federal Magistrates Court)
- implementation of the Trans-Tasman patent attorney regime (whereby patent attorneys registered in Australia or NZ are entitled to practise in the other country as well)
- so-called “technical amendments” to ensure that the amendments made by the “Raising the Bar” Act operate as intended.
Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2013
IP Australia’s announcement
Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down 5 decisions on the same day relating to fair dealing and other issues arising from digital transmission of copyright material.
In a number of respects, its decisions are directly opposite to conclusions that have been reached by our High Court (one example – but it appeared to turn on different statutory language). In others, such as the ‘digital taxi’ theory, the issue may well be regarded as still highly controversial here.
Anyway, a number of Canadian experts have published a book looking at the ramifications of these wide ranging decisions.
In an interesting experiment, you can buy it in the traditional way through the publisher or you may also download an ebook version for free. For more details, see the 1709 blog post.
The patent war over escitalopram in Australia is still going!
One aspect of the Alphapharm / Lundbeck case I had forgotten (if I appreciated it at the time) was that Lindgren J quashed the extension of the patent’s term under s 70ff.
In June 2009, after the Full Court upheld Lindgren J’s decision, Lundbeck made a new application for an extension of term and also applied under s 223 for an extension of time to make that application – an extension of some 10 years or so.
In June 2011, the Commissioner granted Lundbeck’s application for an extension of time over oppositions by Alphapharm, Aspen and others. The AAT dismissed an appeal Aspen et al. and Aspen et al. have appealed from the AAT’s decision to the Full Court. That appeal is still pending.
Pending the outcome of the appeal, Yates J has now refused Aspen et al. a stay on the Commissioner’s decision to extend the term of the patent.
Accepting that it was not ordinarily desirable that there be parallel proceedings before both the Commissioner and the Court, Yates J considered it was not appropriate to exercise his discretion to stay the proceedings before the Commissioner in this case.
While a number of considerations were advanced by both sides, the central consideration was that Lundbeck could well lose the ability to sue for some infringements if it was successful in extending the term of its patent. The issue here is that under s 120(4) proceedings for infringement must be brought within 6 years of the infringing conduct. Aspen et al. were not able to point to any real prejudice outweighing that.
It may be of interest to note that the point in common between the 2 sets of proceedings is Aspen _et al._’s contention that the Commissioner has no power to grant the extension of term now under s 70(4) as she has already exercised the power (albeit invalidly) in granting the extension quashed by Lindgren J.
Aspen Pharma Pty Ltd v H Lundbeck A/S  FCA 324