Harnessing the Creative Spirit in a Diverse World
Edited by Uma Suthersanen, Graham Dutfield and Kit Boey Chow
6. Australia Andrew Christie and Sarah Moritz Australia has seen two systems of second tier patents. The first such regime, the petty patent system, was introduced in 1979. Petty patents were replaced by innovation patents in 2001. The development of Australian second tier patent protection was a response to perceived deficiencies in patents and designs law. Prior to the introduction of petty patents it was thought that all inventions worthy of patent protection were able to achieve it. However, there was an apparent need for quick, less expensive and more easily obtainable patent protection for inventions with a short commercial life. Once petty patents were introduced, however, it became apparent that they not so much served inventors, as manufacturers. In light of this, and the recognition that existing designs legislation did not protect functional innovations, a gap was found to exist in the protection of minor and incremental innovations and inventions. In 2001 a revised second tier patent was instigated – the innovation patent – which supplanted the petty patent. The Australian experience of second tier patent protection provides a useful case study for countries contemplating the introduction of such protection. An analysis of both the petty and innovation patent systems illustrates possible models for second tier patent protection elsewhere. An analysis of second tier patents in the broader context of Australian patents, and a profile of the users of the Australian patent system indicate the effectiveness of petty and innovation patents in meeting the objectives for which they were introduced. 6.1...
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