Innovation patent ceases to exist - what impact does that have on Australian patents?

Back at the turn of the century (2001) Australian legislators decided that it would be useful to introduce a new IP right called the Innovation patent.

That patent right was in addition to the existing (and enduring) standard patent.  It had numerous features which were intended to make it easier for Australian SMEs to protect their innovations and sustain a competitive advantage, thereby stimulating innovation in Australia.

The innovation patent was unique to Australia; Thus, it was only effective within the Australian jurisdiction.

It had a low threshold for grant; Although novelty was required, only an innovative step was required; (as opposed to the more rigorous tests for novelty and obviousness, as required by the standard patent).

The monopoly lasted only 8 years (as opposed to 20 years) and the costs involved were lower than for a standard patent. Examination by the patent examiners at IP Australia was not required unless the patentee decided to enforce that patent against an infringer. Opinions vary as to whether it was successful in stimulating innovation by Australian SMEs. It was always somewhat controversial.

Following various official reviews during the last decade (culminating with a report by the Productivity Commission in 2016) the government decided that the Innovation Patent was not achieving its intended result and therefore it would be abolished. After a 20-year run, the experiment is over.

The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 2 and Other Measures) Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 26 February 2020 and is now law.

As a result, from 26 August 2021 IP Australia will no longer accept applications for an Innovation Patent. While the experiment has run its course, the standard patent continues to endure as the most important legal protection for innovations.

If you have an innovation patent and want to know more about how to protect it once it expires, contact our team for a free consultation. 

For more information about Intellectual property and patents, email our team here. For more information on the Innovation patent change, check out this link from IP Australia.