IP Australia has released an exposure draft bill and regulations to implement some of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations from its Intellectual Property Arrangements report. Intended to be the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 1 and Other Measures) Bill 2017.
According to the news release, the amendments will:
- commence the abolition of the innovation patent system (PC recommendation 8.1)
- expand the scope of essentially derived variety declarations in the Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) Act (PC recommendation 13.1)
- reduce the grace period for filing non-use applications under the Trade Marks Act (PC recommendation 12.1(a))
- clarify the circumstances in which the parallel importation of trade marked goods does not infringe a registered trade mark (PC recommendation 12.1(c))
- repeal section 76A of the Patents Act, which requires patentees to provide certain data relating to pharmaceutical patents with an extended term (PC recommendation 10.1)
- allow PBR exclusive licensees to take infringement actions
- allow for the award of additional damages, under the PBR Act
- include measures intended to streamline a number of processes for the IP rights that IP Australia administers,
and everyone’s favourite “a number of technical amendments”.
On the parallel imports front, the bill would introduce a new s 122A to replace s 123(1) with the object of overruling the Federal Court’s case law severely restricting the legality of “parallel imports” since the 1995 Act came into force. It’s a “doozy”.
For example, it attempts to reverse the onus of proof that the courts have imposed on parallel importers by providing that
at the time of use, it was reasonable for the [parallel importer] to assume the trade mark had been applied to, or in relation to, the goods by, or with the consent of, a person who was, at the time of the application or consent (as the case may be):
(i) the registered owner of the trade mark; or
(ii) an authorised user of the trade mark; or
(iii) a person authorised to use the trade mark by a person mentioned in subparagraph (i) or (ii), or with significant influence over the use of the trade mark by such a person; or
(iv) an associated entity (within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001) of a person mentioned in subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii).
I suppose “reasonable to assume” does at least require some objective support for the “assumption”.
The second part – (iii) and (iv) above – is trying to deal with the situation where the registered owner assigns the trade mark to someone in Australia, but with the capability of calling for a re-assignment.
This will require considerable flexibility by the Courts in interpreting “significant influence”.
If you have made such and assignment, or your client has, you had better start re-assessing your commercial strategy, however. The transitional arrangements say the amendment will apply to any infringement actions brought after the section commences. Moreover, this will be the case even if the “infringing act” took place before the commencement date.
Comments should be submitted by 4 December 2017.
Exposure draft bill
Exposure draft EM
Exposure draft regulations
Exposure draft explanatory statement