The Hague Agreement: a cost benefit analysis

IP Australia has published a cost benefit analysis for Australia joining the Hague Agreement for registration of designs.

You are no doubt thinking that sounds very exciting (not). But, even if you are not into registered designs, you SHOULD READ IT. This is the Government’s first attempt at applying the Productivity Commission’s call for any proposals to reform intellectual property laws to be economically justified. As the Report says in the first paragraph of the Executive Summary:

The report assesses the impacts [i.e., the costs and benefits to Australia of joining the Hague Agreement] with reference to the Productivity Commission’s (PC) guiding principles of effectiveness, efficiency, adaptability and accountability. This report is intended to form part of the evidence base in relation to whether Australia should join the Hague Agreement.

So, unless it involves an acronym that is like TPP, this could well be a harbinger of things to come.

And what does it conclude find:

  • IP Australia’s best estimate of the net benefit for Australian designers is $1.7 million;[1]
  • IP Australia’s best estimate of the net cost to Australian consumers from higher prices resulting from the longer term of design protection is $58 million;[2]
  • to add a little bit more spice to the debate, IP Australia’s best estimate of the net cost to Australian IP professionals is $2.5 million;[3] and
  • IP Australia’s best estimate of the net cost to the Australian government of implementing new systems etc. to comply with Hague is $2.8 million.[4]

The big question IP Australia is asking you is how realistic are these estimates?

Now, in arriving at these numbers, the Report does include quite a lot of hard data.
For example, most Australians who file designs overseas do so in the EU, the USA, NZ and China. On the other side of the coin, most incoming design registrations were from the USA, the EU, Japan, NZ, Switzerland and China.[5]

On the other hand, the Productivity Commission reported that less than 20% of registered designs are renewed beyond the first 5 year term.[6] According to IP Australia, however, approximately half of all design registrations are renewed for the second 5 year term and non-residents are more likely to renew than Australians.[7]

Will we become better at designing if we “stick” with our current settings – 19th out of the top 40[8] – or should we “twist” and sign up? Of course, there is an anterior question: do we even care about good design in the first place?

IP Australia is seeking feedback on its cost-benefit analysis and its proposed methodology to elicit additional evidence and views with the aim of finalising the analysis in 2018. You should get your say in by 31 May 2018.

The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs: A cost-benefit analysis for Australia March 2018


  1. This represents the costs savings from the simplified application procedure and the increased profits from taking new designs overseas. IP Australia estimates the range of benefit is from $0.03 million to $6 million.  ?
  2. This represents how much Australian consumers would pay to overseas owners of registered designs if the term of a registered design was extended from 10 years (currently) to the minimum 15 years required under Hague. IP Australia estimates a resulting range of net outflows from $23 million to $114 million.  ?
  3. IP Australia anticipates that “IP professionals” will garner some extra work at the examination stage but will lose work at the filing stage as the Hague Agreement provides for one central application to WIPO rather than multiple individual application to each separate jurisdiction. IP Australia estimates a range from a benefit of $0.3 million to a cost of $12 million.  ?
  4. The Government (presumably that means IP Australia) will incur costs between $2.3 and $3.4 million in upgrading its IT systems.  ?
  5. Report p. 10. It’s not clear from this part of the Report whether Australian applicants filed in all, some or only one of those destinations.  ?
  6. Productivity Commission, Intellectual Property Arrangements: Final Report, p. 337. These were the figures from ACIP as at 2013.  ?
  7. Report p. 11. In 2010, 66% of non-residents renewed. How the discrepancy between the Productivity Commission’s figures (i.e.,
    ACIP’s figures) came about is not clear.  ?
  8. Report Appendix 3 table 4.1.  ?

In which the lawyers don’t lose themselves

Eminem is suing a New Zealand political party for infringing his copyright in New Zealand in Lose Yourself.

A bit of background here.

Part of the barrister’s opening for Eminem plays the two songs and is attracting social media commentary on what is said to be the surrealist way lawyers in court behave.

Meanwhile, we all get to express an opinion (however well informed) on whether there’s an infringement or not.

Lid dip: Therese Catanzariti

NZexit?

The Commerce Select committee of the NZ Parliament has recommended that NZ should not continue with the proposed Single Application and Examination Processes for patent applications in both Australia and NZ. The committee, however, did support continuing with the single trans-Tasman patent attorney regime.

As IP Australia points out, Australia passed the IP Laws Amendment Act 2015 to implement this process. The Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Bill was introduced into the NZ Parliament last year.

The NZ government’s response to the recommendation is not known at this stage.

A third case of extradition

The 1709 blog has a good summary of the arrest of Megaupload.com’s Kim “Dotcom” in New Zealand for allegedly copyrights in the USA.

Case 1 (Hew Griffiths aka ‘bandido’)

Case 2 (Richard O’Dwyer)

Meanwhile, some controversy is brewing because the FBI has seized the domain name and apparently blocked any access to the site even by those who have stored material legitimately in the service. Does that mean we all need to start worrying what will happen if our online back-up service is being used by alleged pirates too?

Trans Tasman IP harmonising – patents

Prime Ministers Gillard (Australia) and Key (EnZed) have reaffirmed their countries’ respective commitment to closer co-operation in (industrial) IP matters between the two countries as part of the Trans Tasman Single Economic Market.

Apparently, over the next 5 years our countries will work towards:

  1. one regulatory framework for patent attorneys;
  2. one trade mark regime;
  3. one application process for patents in both jurisdictions; and
  4. one plant variety right regime.

According to the Statement issued on 16 February, the single application process for patents in both jurisdications will involve 2 stages. In the first stage, “both countries will rely on each other’s work, where possible, to build confidence and simplify processes”. In the second stage, there will be a “single examination process”.

Apparently, this will not involve changing either country’s patent laws as the Statement explains:

Examiners will grant or refuse applications under each country’s law. It will not be necessary for our laws to be identical.

and

Australia and New Zealand will operate as one integrated patent examination entity in practice – not in law. Both countries will retain flexibility to implement legislation and policies.

All this is forecast to take 3 years.

In contrast, streams 2 and 4 envisage one (trade mark or plant breeder’s) regime. That seems to indicate than one or other of our respective trade mark or plant breeder’s laws will need to change because (so far as I understand it – not very far at all, really) EnZed trade mark law is much closer to “modern” (ie. 1994) UK legislation and hence EU rules. Is it too soon to start boning up on ECJ rulings?

See also here and here.

3 strikes in Kiwi land

Looks like New Zealand will be repealing its law imposing a “3 strikes” ban requiring ISPs to cut off infringing downloaders.

Howard has the news at Excess Copyright. Imagine how much lobbying is going to take place now? How long before the USTR has to fly all the way down “here”?

Howard also links to an interesting article about the settlement by Eire’s biggest ISP.

Our law, s 116AG, already gives the Court power to order an ISP to do this and, of course, the case against iiNet is still winding its way through the legal process.

3 strikes – across the Tasman

Apparently, New Zealand’s copyright law has been amended to require ISPs to terminate the account of a “repeat infringer”.

Excess Copyright has the links.

Our law – Copyright Act s 116AG – already provides that a Court may order the “carriage service provider” to terminate a specified account.