IP laws in Australia are pretty strict – can your business take advantage?

Are intellectual property laws in Australia too strong, or not strong enough? This is a question the country has long been grappling with.

In Australia, like everywhere else in the world, there's an ongoing struggle to find the perfect balance with regards to intellectual property law. It's important to have some degree of copyright restrictions in place – this makes it easier for companies to protect what's theirs and use it to make a profit. It's problematic, however, for laws to be too stringent. This impedes creative thinking and innovation.

There's an ongoing struggle to find the perfect balance with regards to intellectual property law.

Recently, this question was put under the microscope again, with an independent commission reviewing the state of today's IP laws. What did they find out, and how might this news affect the future of your business?

New report from Australia's Productivity Commission

Is copyright law in Australia too strict, or not strict enough? That's a question that public and private organisations have long grappled over. The Productivity Commission came out with a new report in late 2016 concluding that it's currently too easy for companies to protect their intellectual property. Alder IP has made several submissions to the Productivity Commission, explaining the patent system in Australia needs to balance the rights of large corporate and small inventors/startup companies. We believe that too many times, the interests of large multinational corporations lobby the government for their own interests.

"Australia's patent system grants exclusivity too readily, allowing a proliferation of low-quality patents, frustrating follow-on innovators and stymieing competition," the report claimed.

The Commission noted that it wants creators and inventors to be awarded for their efforts, yet simultaneously worries about it becoming too easy for creative people to achieve exclusive monopolies, thus limiting innovation. We fundamentally disagree and most patent applicants or inventors based in Australia are small/start-up businesses and as such rely heavily on programs like innovation patents. Innovation patents give a smaller inventors an opportunity to register their invention as a patent at a much lower cost.

The Productivity Commission was also very critical of copyright in Australia. They recommended sweeping changes to copyright regimes in Australia even though many of the regimes in Australia are dictated by international agreements which Australia is a signatory.

What does this mean for your business?

Are the rules today too lax for Australian companies? Is it simply too easy for creators to get copyrights? This may well be true – and according to IP Australia, it would be wise for your company to take advantage of this. If trade mark registration in Australia is getting simpler, it's wise to trade mark as much as you can.

Does your company have IP that needs protecting?Does your company have IP that needs protecting?

A lot of different types of IP are now copyrightable. IP Australia notes that "brand names, logos, original sounds and scents and even aspects of packaging" are now fair game. For your business, it makes sense to protect your brand by copyrighting any and all of the above.

Analyse your company's current holdings

Does your company have various forms of IP that it's not yet protecting? If so, it's time to find capable copyright lawyers in Sydney who will help you fix that problem. Your IP is one of your most important assets, so don't neglect it.

Contacting a lawyer isn't just for when you've got a lawsuit to file. At Alder IP, we can help with basic steps like analysing your IP portfolio and reviewing your business' needs. Reach out to us today if this sort of service could be of help to you.