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What do Australia’s biggest companies think of our copyright law?

The Productuivty Commission's inquiry will analyse Australia's IP system.

As reported on previously, an inquiry was launched in 2015 in order to determine the effectiveness of Australia's intellectual property (IP) arrangements. The research is being undertaken by the Productivity Commission, which is currently investigating whether the country has struck the right balance between protecting IP and encouraging healthy competition.

IP arrangements need to protect innovation, says one submission.
IP arrangements need to protect innovation, says one submission.

What was the purpose of the inquiry?

Within the terms of reference for the inquiry, the Productivity Commission outlined the reasons behind the government's request. It stated that changes to technology and the global economy have led to increases in the length and scope of IP protection such as patents.

In light of these changes, the government launched the inquiry to determine whether the right balance exists between incentivising innovation and ensuring business have the right access to ideas and products. While the full report is yet to be released, the Productivity Commission has invited submissions from individuals and organisations.

In total, there have been 128 submissions, including a joint response from tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter. Australia's own, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has also made a submission detailing the research implications.

Does our IP system foster innovation?

"A key purpose of the IP system is to enable creative and inventive output to acquire certain forms of legal protection to encourage its development."

CSIRO explained that the right IP protection mechanisms are an essential part in ensuring research outcomes can be transferred into technology. Furthermore, the organisation outlined the importance of an efficient IP system that can provide rights to Australians whether this is through trademarks or other forms of protection.

"A key purpose of the IP system is to enable creative and inventive output to acquire certain forms of legal protection to encourage its development," CSIRO stated in its submission.

The Digital Industry Group Incorporated represented the tech companies and called for similar changes to Australia's legislation. 

Citing innovation as the key to economic prosperity, the group emphasised the role the internet has played in driving business growth and productivity. As such, the submission recommended an IP system that seeks to foster and protect innovation.

"It is clear that there are significant areas of Australia's IP laws that require reform to make sure that existing 'IP rights are [not only] apt for the future' but also apt for today," the group stated in its submission.

The vast number of submissions reflects the importance of IP to Australia's economy. With potential policy changes after the Productivity Commission has completed it's inquiry, it can be difficult to navigate the law without the help of an expert.

If you are concerned your intellectual property has been infringed or you might be overstepping another individual's, contact the lawyers at Alder IP for more certainty regarding your rights.