Posts Tagged ‘Delnorth’

Innovation patents – further chance to protest

Monday, September 24th, 2012

IP Australia is seeking comments on how the innovation patent system is working.

Since 2001, Australia grants 2 types of patent: the standard patent with a normal term of 20 years and an innovation patent with a term up to 8 years.

Ann innovation patent need show only an innovative step over the prior art to be valid. According to the Full Court in Delnorth, this requires a difference that the person skilled in the art would understand makes a substantialmaterial contribution to how the product / method works. As the Full Court acknowledged, this is nothing like the inventive step requirement for a standard patent.  See also the SNF case.

According to IP Australia’s website:

Since the Delnorth (2009) decision in the Federal Court, relatively obvious minor improvements to inventions have been patentable.  There has been an unusual growth of innovation patent applications for certain technologies. There is some evidence that larger companies might be using the innovation patent system to extend the life of their patents and deliberately targeting competitors.

ACIP is already undertaking a review into the innovation patent system as a whole. The consultation paper for this (IP Australia’s) review explains:

The Advisory Council on Intellectual Property is presently conducting a review of the Innovation Patent system as a whole. In the mid term, this will provide valuable insights and recommendations for improvements.

In the short term, however, there is a pressing need to address emerging risks of the Innovation Patent system being used in ways which would lead to undue costs to consumers and to businesses that compete with owners of Innovation Patents. For example, there is a need to ensure that Innovation Patents do not inappropriately extend the life of pharmaceutical patents and delay the introduction of less expensive generic medicines, leading to increased costs to consumers and an increase in government expenditure through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

As a result, the Government proposes to amend the Patents Act 1990 to raise the threshold for inventiveness to the same level as for Standard Patents (Attachment A refers). This approach is consistent with the second tier patent systems operating in countries such as Germany and Japan.

Comments are requested by 25 October 2012.

You can download the consultation paper, Innovation Patents – Raising the Step (sic), via this page.

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What happens when an opponent stops opposing

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Delnorth had successfully opposed the grant of a standard patent to Dura-post for the latter’s flexible roadside posts (Patent App. No. ) on the grounds that it lacked inventive step.

Dura-post appealed to the Federal Court.

Delnorth decided not to continue with its opposition on appeal. (By this time, it had already lost this one (on the innovation patent) and was in liquidation.)

The Federal Court directed that the appeal be allowed and Dura-post’s application proceed to grant.

Delnorth Pty Ltd v Dura-Post (Aust) Pty Ltd (Administrator Appointed) [2010] FCA 465

The practice point here is that the parties were able to go along to Court armed with a letter from the Commissioner indicating she did not intend to appear on the appeal. Contrast the (interlocutory) outcome in Sherman, where the Commissioner wished to fight on.

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