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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 3071


Mr COLEMAN (BanksAssistant Minister for Finance) (12:48): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill delivers the first tranche of the Turnbull government's commitment to review and reform our intellectual property arrangements, ensuring that they provide an appropriate balance between access to ideas and products, and encouraging innovation, investment and the production of creative works.

The bill proceeds following extensive consultation, giving stakeholders an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and ensure that costs, barriers and red tape are reduced for businesses seeking to bring great ideas to the market. This consultation has indicated that the measures in this bill have been welcomed by stakeholders, and will modernise and improve Australia's intellectual property system.

The continuing success of the Australian economy will depend on our ability to innovate, lift our productivity, and compete in the global market place.

The intellectual property system is an important element of the economy because it promotes and incentivises investment in creativity, innovation, research and technology. It rewards great new ideas and helps businesses to grow and expand, entering new markets and creating more Australian jobs.

The government is committed to ensuring that Australia has a world-class, effective and efficient intellectual property system. To this end, in 2015 we asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the intellectual property system, including copyright, trademarks, patents, designs and plant breeder's rights.

The government responded to the Productivity Commission's recommendations in August 2017 and we have acted quickly to implement a number of recommendations that did not require legislative changes already.

Schedule 1 to this bill will implement the government's response to several of the Productivity Commission's recommendations that do require legislative changes, and which are ready for immediate implementation.

Part 1 clarifies the circumstances in which the importation of genuine trademarked goods do not infringe a registered trademark. Recent legal decisions have increased the difficulty for importing legitimately marked goods into Australia. This bill will amend the Trade Marks Act 1995 to reduce uncertainty for importers, which will ultimately strengthen competition, benefiting the market and consumers.

Part 2 closes a loophole that allows free riding to occur on protected plant varieties. This bill will amend the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 to expand the circumstances where an essentially derived variety (EDV) declaration can be applied for, providing greater protection for plant varieties. As EDV declarations can currently only be made where a second breeder has filed a plant breeder's right (PBR) application on the new variety, breeders can avoid an EDV declaration by not filing a PBR application. This bill will allow an EDV declaration to be made on a new variety regardless of whether a PBR application has been filed or not. Plant breeder's rights encourage breeders to invest in developing new, improved varieties and are a significant export industry.

Part 3 changes the period that must elapse before third parties can seek the removal of a trademark registration on the basis that a trademark has not been used. This bill will amend the Trade Marks Act 1995, helping to reduce the number of unused registered trademarks. This aims to reduce barriers to competition while achieving greater alignment with international standards for this type of action.

Part 4, the last in schedule 1, will repeal section 76A of the Patents Act 1990 to remove a requirement for owners of patents with an extended term to provide certain data about their research and development costs such as Commonwealth funding. This requirement has become unnecessary and duplicative, as this type of information is being collected more efficiently by the government from other sources, including through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Schedule 2 to this bill will amend the Patents Act 1990, the Trade Marks Act 1995, the Designs Act 2003, the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994, the Copyright Act 1968, and the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 to implement a number of measures to streamline and modernise aspects of the Australian intellectual property system, reducing barriers and regulatory costs for Australian businesses.

Technological developments have and will continue to change the way government does business. This schedule seeks to futureproof the intellectual property system, updating written and filing requirements to allow greater flexibility and allow communication with clients and stakeholders through the most efficient and effective means. The schedule also allows the use of computerised decision-making to assist with the efficient administration of intellectual property rights, with appropriate safeguards.

Schedule 2 will provide protection from unjustified threats of infringement in the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 and reinforce the protection in the Designs Act 2003, the Patents Act 1990 and the Trade Marks Act 1995 by allowing the courts to award additional damages. Such threats from owners of intellectual property rights can hinder competition.

A number of provisions in this schedule will strengthen plant breeder's rights and better align them with other intellectual property rights. This bill will amend the Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 to allow the award of additional damages for particularly wilful or blatant infringement, and allow exclusive licensees to take infringement actions.

I am very pleased to introduce this bill, which builds on and enhances Australia's intellectual property system and further supports innovation, creativity and business growth in this country.

I commend this bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned.