The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012 (Cth) (new law) constitutes the most extensive changes to Australian patent law and procedure as of the last 20 years. It is the result of a series of law reform proposals arising from numerous reviews of the Australian patent system over the last 10 years.
While the intention of the law is to encourage investment in Australian R&D, the reforms to Australia’s IP system will impact on all users of the system, and all businesses conducting R&D in Australia.
The components of the new law that are most relevant to the Australian patent system have been contained in a series of schedules in the development of the Amendment Act as follows:
Schedule 1 – raising the quality of granted patents by increasing the threshold for patentability of inventions and requirements for a valid patent specification
Schedule 2 – providing for access to patented inventions for acts done in relation to obtaining experimental approval or experimental research
Schedule 3 – reducing delays in resolution of patent applications, thereby providing greater certainty for the public, and
Schedule 6 – simplifying the patent system by removing procedural hurdles and streamlining processes.
Many of the changes under schedules 1, 3 and 6 are technical and will involve complex interactions between the Amendment Act and regulations. Recognition that the legislation impacts patent applications pending at the time of enactment of the new law resulted in the changes under these schedules not coming into effect until 15 April 2013 (12 months after commencement).
The changes under Schedule 2 commenced on 15 April 2012.