As of the October 10, 2016, the provisions of the Intellectual Property Legislations Amendment (Fee Review) Regulation will take effect, helping SMEs and startups to innovate at lower prices and through a less-complicated governmental process. This article outlines how the changes in intellectual property law in Australia intend to promote innovation and increase efficiency.
The problem of innovation inefficiency
Certainly, these are necessary reforms considering Australia's relatively low innovation efficiency. The 2015 Australian Innovation System Report found that, although Australia has high rates of entrepreneurship (ranking 17th among OECD countries) the ability to start a successful business proves difficult. This is shown by the 2015 Global Innovation Index, which ranks Australia at only 30th for innovation efficiency in the OECD.
The report found that the main reason for this innovative inefficiency is lack of access to finance, with between 18 and 26 per cent of Australian SMEs saying it is a barrier. Government compliance and regulations was another barrier cited by 8.7 per cent of SMEs in 2012-13. These two barriers are related because, with lack of access to finance, Australia's regulations become even more of a burden. Despite the innovation patent application being an overall easier process, these barriers are still a deterrent of growth in innovation.
The solution: Reducing costs and the number of steps
Another stated goal of IP Australia's is to increase efficiency and effectiveness, a principle outlined in the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines, referring to getting rid of "red-tape reduction initiatives." In other words, the organisation wants to simplify the number of interactions that customers have with its services.
IP Australia states that one reduction meant to target inefficiency is the trademark opposition fees, which are completely free now. This may have disastrous consequences and no consultation with industry bodies seems to be taken into account. Free oppositions could potentially mean that every trade mark application will be opposed at no cost.
IP Australia is significantly reducing the fees for international style patent searching on provisional patent application to make it affordable. However they have tinkered with the cost structure for trade marks by significantly increasing the initial filing fees for trade mark applications.
These two new regulations regarding patents and trademarks are part of IP Australia's innovation policy. However, IP Australia writes that, to make up for this reduction in startup costs, the law increases maintenance costs that come up later on, like the trademark renewal fee, for instance. Furthermore, trade mark application filing fees will actually increase by 25 per cent to counteract the removal of the $300 TM registration fee. Still, the decrease in the price of registration is an improvement because it removes one first point of interaction with IP Australia.
To learn more about these changes in IP law in Australia and how they will affect your legal processes, consult with Alder IP today.