Archive for the ‘Trade’ Category

Another round in the plain packaging tobacco war

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

This is a bit behind as it happened over the break:

The “tobacco plain packaging” legislation became law last December and, as you will recall, Philip Morris Asia has initiated an arbitration proceeding under the Australia-Hong Kong Investment Treaty.

Australia filed its “defence” late in December, alleging that Philip Morris Asia bought the assets in question after the Government’s plans were known and so hasn’t lost any value:

Prof. Davison has a typically wry report

Philip Morris’ complaint and Australia’s “defence” are available via here.

 

Australia signed up to ACTA

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Last Saturday, while half of us were trying not to watch Meat Loaf earn a reported $500,ooo (here, here or here) or tweeting, the Minister for Trade travelled to Japan to sign ACTA (the Department’s home page currently has a photograph of the actual signing).

According to the Minister’s Press Release:

The implementation of ACTA will not require legislative changes in Australia. Rather, trading partners will adapt their laws to the high standards of IP enforcement that already apply in Australia.

According to the USTR, no changes would be required to US law either.

The Minister for Trade’s Press Release states that Australia is one of 10 countries attending the signing + the EU. Howard Knopf reports that those signing included Australia, Canada,  Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, (South) Korea & USA, but the EU didn’t. According to ZDNet, the EU still working on it. So this may be a bit “optimistic”.

According to the USTR, the EU, Mexico and Switzerland did attend and “confirmed their continuing strong support for and preparations to sign the Agreement as soon as practicable”.

Lid dip @howardknopf

A fairly close look at ACTA

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Terry Hart embarks on a fairly detailed comparison of (what was known about the draft) ACTA and US copyright law to see how much would need to change “ACTA: Thought for FUD” in 4 parts

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

One might well be very sceptical about something being negotiated “in private”. Nonetheless, if you get past the reliance on proposed art. 1.2 as “not requiring new laws”, it is definitely worth a read. If nothing else, you will come away very much better informed.

Lid dip: Ben Sheffner

Injurious falsehood and also passing off

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The tort of injurious falsehood (sometimes called malicious falsehood or even trade libel) has been largely superseded (but not totally extinguished) by passing off and the modern wrongs against misleading or deceptive conduct. In a helpful, practical primer, Jagot J has had to explore its operation as one of the issues in the Jack Brabham Engines case. There is also an elementary lesson to learn in passing off.

In overview, the case concerned 2 rival businesses engaged in developing car engines. They agreed to pool their resources and develop technologies through a new corporate vehicle, Jack Brabham Engines (JBE). The principals in the competitors became directors and shareholders and the great man himself was a shareholder. Things didn’t work out and one of the principals, Mr Beare, who had secured patents for technology he had developed earlier decided to invest elsewhere in competition with JBE.

Amongst other things, he published statements on his website and in ASIC documents which the applicants complained were injurious falsehoods. Jagot J rejected these allegations.

Her Honour pointed out at [246] that the tort required proof of 3 ingredients: proof that (1) the respondent has made a false statement, (2) that the respondent made the statement maliciously and (3) as a result the applicant has suffered actual damage.

Her Honour quoted Gleeson CJ on the difference between the tort and defamation:

The tort of defamation protects reputation, and it does so in a manner that involves a balancing of various considerations including the right of free speech. The tort of injurious falsehood protects against provable economic loss resulting from false and malicious statements.

Jagot J at [247] also endorsed the statement in Halsbury’s Law of Australia as a convenient summary of what is required for the statement to be malicious:

The false publication must have been made maliciously. A person who acted in good faith is therefore not liable. Malice is a question of motive, intention or state of mind and involves the use of an occasion for some indirect purpose or indirect motive such as to cause injury to another person. Malice may exist without an actual intention to injure. Malice may not be inferred from the fact of publication but will be inferred where the false publication was made with:
(1) an intent to injure without just cause;
(2) knowledge of their falsity; or
(3) reckless indifference to its truth or falsity.
No action will lie where the false publication was made with mere lack of care or with an honest belief in its truth. An honest belief in the truth of the statement will rebut any inference of malice.

The applicants failed on all heads for a wide variety of reasons. Some of the statements were not even pleaded. The applicants failed to prove that others were even false and, at every turn, the statements were not shown to be malicious because they were the honest beliefs or opinions of Mr Beare. There was also no proof of damage.

The difficulties of proving malice in particular highlight why, if the conduct is in trade or commerce, the tort has largely been supplanted by the fair trading laws such as  s 52 (in the case of corporations) and s 9 / s 42 (in the case of individuals).

The applicants also alleged passing off from use of the names “Beare Technology Engine” and “Beare Head Technology”. The names were not registered as trade marks, hence any rights had to arise at common law.

The problem for the applicants here was that Mr Beare had used these names in his business before JBE was incorporated and, while he or his company had authorised JBE to use the names, JBE was unable to identify any assignment of the earlier business and its goodwill to JBE. As a result, JBE did not own the relevant reputation.

Jack Brabham Engines Limited v Beare [2010] FCA 872

Draft ACTA text released

Monday, April 26th, 2010

DFAT ‘welcomes‘ the release of the draft ACTA text:

http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/acta/index.html

Draft text (pdf)

(Post updated to tidy up the links on 29/4)

TRIPs protocol: Australian implementation consultation

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

IP Australia has issued a consultation paper on implementing the TRIPS protocol.

The TRIPS protocol is the modification (or is that clarification?) of TRIPS obligations to improve the availability of “crisis” pharmaceuticals in least developed and developing countries. From the discussion paper:

The TRIPS Protocol seeks to address this problem by amending the TRIPS Agreement to permit WTO members to issue compulsory licences to produce patented pharmaceutical products for export to least-developed and developing countries. The main features of the Protocol are:
• Licences may only be issued for products of the pharmaceutical sector needed to address public health concerns.
• Countries eligible to import pharmaceuticals under the system comprise any least-developed WTO country or any other WTO country that has notified the TRIPS Council.
• Importing countries are obliged to provide the TRIPS Council with details such as the names and quantities of the products needed and whether they need to issue a compulsory licence in their own country.
• Exporting countries are obliged to notify the TRIPS Council of a range of details and ensure that importing countries have done the same.
• Both importers and exporters must have in place anti-diversion measures to ensure the products produced under the system reach the intended market and are not re-exported.

Read the paper here (pdf).

Submissions due by 4 June 2010.

ACTA coming a little bit more out of the shadows

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Michael Geist has a link to the leaked EU comments on the chapter for third party liability on the internet – being drafted by the USA.

The Guardian has weighed into the debate.

Kim Weatherall has emerged from her self-imposed seclusion to comment here, here and here.

DFAT’s must recent summary and overview of key elements. Anondyne USTR statement.

Selected microblog posts (w/e 11/09/09)

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Selected microblog posts from the past week:

  • RT @VogeleLaw: Found: Mary Beth Peter’s testimony (via @cathygellis – thanks!) http://bit.ly/Cijau #gbs_hearing [US Copyright Register opposes Google Book Settlement]
  • Google Book in the EU? http://ff.im/-7OYfA
  • RT @MegLG: A Billion Dollar Test of the DMCA Safe Harbors in Viacom v YouTube http://ow.ly/om66 via Cyberlaw Cases
  • RT @michaelgeist: Microsoft wins stay of injunction on Word. Case arises from patent claim by Toronto’s i4i.http://bit.ly/oDmLU
  • IP Think Tank Blog looks at i4i v Microsofthttp://ff.im/-7zfKp
  • AAR on UWA v Gray – Universities and their employees: who owns developed IP? http://ff.im/-7RmgI
  • Hannahland: Ph D candidate on UWA v Gray http://ff.im/-7WcoR

Working a patent for regulatory approvals

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Patently-O considers a new Federal Circuit case in the USA dealing with the scope of s 271(e)(1) – a defence to infringement by working the patent to prepare regulatory data.

It would appear that the defence should now apply in proceedings against imports before the ITC.

Patents Act 1990 (Cth) s 119A (introduced with effect from 25 October 2006 following ACIP’s report) permits such activity where the working:

  • is for purposes of having a therapeutic pharmaceutical product included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods;
  • or a similar foreign regulatory approval.

Although working for a foreign regulatory approval may take place only in the supplementary protection period (see e.g. ACIP on experimental use p. 44 (pdf)).

See now Alphapharm Pty Ltd v H Lundbeck A/S [2008] FCA 559 at [643]ff.

IP Australia is considering extending this: see paragraphs 9 and 17 of IP Australia’s Consultation Paper on experimental use (pdf) [NOTE: submissions should be in by 8 May 2009. Submissions on the Getting the Balance Right paper (pdf) are also due by then.]

WIPO’s Standing Committee on Patents has a study paper on exceptions and limitations as an area of increased focus.

Patents, pharmaceuticals and exports

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I’m not quite sure why, but the blogosphere is increasingly chattering again about relaxing the rules against infringing a patent by making the protected product (esp. a pharmaceutical) for export:

IP’s What’s Up reviews the TRIPS status including the DOHA declaration and its rather tentative take up.