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08.30.17

Australian Government Cracks Down on Patent Maximalism, Dealing a Blow to Parasitic Firms

Posted in Australia, Patents at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Parasitic creature

Summary: Following recommendations from the Productivity Commission, the government of Australia decides to limit the scope of patents because currently the “system imposes significant costs on third parties and the broader Australian community.”

THE USPTO together with PTAB is improving patent quality. It’s a much-needed improvement.

Last year we wrote about half a dozen articles about the findings of the Productivity Commission in Australia, demonstrating the dangers of patent maximalism, including software patents. The study has not been merely shelved or ignored. In fact, a site of patent maximalists (with new articles like this one) openly bemoans rather than reports a decision in Australia to help SMEs rather than parasitic law firms. To quote what it said yesterday:

The Australian government will abolish the innovation patent system in a bid to bring the country in line with international standards.

In its response to the Australian Productivity Commission’s inquiry into intellectual property, the government agreed that the innovation system is “unlikely to provide net benefits to the Australian community or to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)”.

Innovation patents are akin to utility models in that they have a shorter lifespan than traditional patents—eight years, in Australia’s case—and have lower thresholds for inventiveness.

“The commission found that the majority of SMEs who use the innovation patent system do not obtain value from it, and that the system imposes significant costs on third parties and the broader Australian community.”

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. The Australian government, having studied some facts (not lobbying from the patent ‘industry’), has reportedly decided “to raise the inventive step threshold” in patents, IAM said yesterday. IAM is of course complaining:

The government will also ask Parliament to raise the inventive step threshold for standard patents and insert language in the patent statute that emphasises the technical/technological features of an invention, through the following three amendments to the Patents Act 1990…

Does that mean the end of software patents in Australia? Meanwhile in New Zealand, where the subject of software patents was hotly debated for years, patent bullying may be about to become easier. As Managing IP has just put it:

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) became a participant patent office in the global patent prosecution highway (GPPH) on July 6. IP practitioners in New Zealand point out that the GPPH provides an accelerated option, but not acceptance of a patent. They also stress that use of the GPPH may not result in the broadest possible claims as claims need to sufficiently correspond to those found allowable

This does not impact patent scope, but it certainly favours more litigation or prosecution. It often means rushed examination, too.

The bottom line is, the above patent maximalism sites were quick (if not first) to report what seems like substantial improvements in patent quality. They are not pleased about it, but people who work in the area of science and technology definitely gained at the expense of the patent ‘industry’ (the patent microcosm).

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