Joint media release with Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP.
The Gillard Government has taken a further step towards strengthening Australia's intellectual property system with the passage of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2013 through the House of Representatives today.
Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet said the Bill strikes the right balance between encouraging innovation and ensuring the community has access to new technologies.
The Bill addresses a number of intellectual property issues in existing legislation and is the product of consultation with stakeholders over a number of years.
Amendments to the Patents Act 1990 will improve Crown use provisions, which help protect the community's access to new technology.
"This Bill will clarify that the Government can intervene in circumstances such as where a patent would deny patients reasonable access to health care services, including gene-based cancer screening," said Mr Combet.
The Government has stated that in these circumstances, where it deems it necessary and appropriate, it would be willing to invoke these refined Crown use provisions to address unreasonable conduct by patent holders.
The Bill also will implement the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, which means Australian manufacturers can apply to the Federal Court for a compulsory license to manufacture patented drugs for export to developing countries facing a health crisis.
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, Yvette D'Ath said that the patent system exists to help people and the Bill will provide an avenue to deliver lifesaving medicines to those who need them.
The new legislation also provides for a more streamlined business environment between Australia and New Zealand by more closely aligning the two countries' patent systems to enable a single patent attorney regime, and single patent examination and application processes.
It also enables owners of plant breeder's rights to take action in the Federal Circuit Court against alleged infringers. The court (formerly the Federal Magistrates Court) is able to decide less complex matters more quickly and informally than the Federal Court.
Media Contacts: Parliamentary Secretary's Office 02 6277 4501
Minister's Office 02 6277 7290