March 29 2012.
The Raising the Bar Bill that reforms Australia’s intellectual property laws has passed both houses of parliament and will soon be signed into law.
While the passing of the mining tax garnered the majority of headlines over the past few days, the Australian parliament has passed another major reform into law, this time concerning intellectual property.
The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2012 was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday, following a long and fractious debate that finally saw it pass the Senate on 28 February this year.
The Bill includes several significant reforms that will affect the biotechnology and life sciences industry.
The most important is a research exemption, which allows researchers to conduct experiments on patented matter without risking infringement
The term “experiment” is defined in ordinary English, and applies to tests, trials and procedures that a researcher or follow-on innovator undertakes as part of discovering new information or testing a principle or supposition.
The other major reform is tightening the conditions for granting new patents and aligning Australian patent law more closely with international standards, providing more certainty when applying for patents overseas.
The Bill also simplifies the patent application process, streamlines the patent and trademark procedures and improves trademark and copyright enforcement.
It does not ban or restrict patents on genetic material other than by ‘raising the bar’ for the granting of any patents.
The Bill now needs to be signed by the Governor General and will come into effect 12 months from assent, meaning it is expected to kick in in March 2013.
AusBiotech CEO, Anna Lavelle, welcomed the passing of the Bill.
“AusBiotech is delighted to see the passing of the Raising the Bar Bill through the lower house this week," she told ALS.
"The Australian parliament has made the right decision as the Bill guarantees an improvement in IP management in Australia.
"The government is to be congratulated for pursuing this Bill. AusBiotech has supported the Bill from inception as it provides certainty for researchers and harmonises patent management with international standards."