Electronics pervades nearly every aspect of our lives, from the latest consumer gadgets in our homes that entertain us, keep us safe and wake us up in time to get to work, to the electronics that allow us to perform our work, and the electronics that blurs the line between home and work such as mobile communication networks and devices.
Electronic components and electronic devices are becoming more and more portable to allow the consumer to take their electronic life wherever they go.
It is difficult to pinpoint one particular developing trend in electronics over others, since electronics is used in nearly all areas of modern endeavour. Broad areas that have recently received much media attention include renewable energy, 3D printing, and wearable electronics.
One particular area that appears to attract much activity is that of medical technology and in particular, the integration of medical devices with the human body, whether used inside the body as an implant, or outside the body as a piece of wearable apparatus.
The most recent patent statistics analysis1 published by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) indicates that the most active patent area for Australian-originating patent applicants, is medical technology, with 4,558 patent applications filed in that area between 2007 and 2011, the greatest number of patent applications from Australia in all of the 35 technology fields covered in the study.
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AMORE, GIALLO, FELICE, BELLO, BLANC BLEU are but a handful of the many foreign language words that are registered as trade marks in Australia.
But care must be taken not to assume (as one may be tempted to from a cursory glance at the Australian Register of Trade Marks) that words in a non-English language will more easily satisfy the requirements for registration as a trade mark in Australia.
The registration requirement of most relevance to trade marks comprising foreign language words is the requirement (set out in section 41 of the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth)) that a trade mark be “capable of distinguishing” the applicant’s goods or services from those of other persons.
When considering the application of section 41, the relevant enquiry will initially be whether a trade mark is “inherently adapted to distinguish” the applicant’s goods or services. If a trade mark is “inherently” or prima facie adapted to distinguish, it will not attract an objection to registration under section 41.
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As part of the 2012 Federal Budget, the Australian Government has approved changes to IP Australia’s fees, including standard patent renewal fees. The new fee structure will apply from 1 July 2012.
Prior to the changes, annual renewal or maintenance fees for standard patents and pending applications were not payable until after the 5th anniversary of the filing date.
From 1 July 2012, renewals will become payable on standard patents and applications from the 4th anniversary of filing. The official government fee for the 4th year renewal will begin at AU$300. Our usual renewal service charge will apply. You will be receiving renewal reminder letters in due course with total renewal costs.
The new renewal fee will only apply to standard patents and applications having an effective filing date on or after 1 July 2008. As this is a significant change to IP Australia’s practice regarding renewals, we are providing this notice to you in advance of this new fee being introduced.
If you would like to know about any of IP Australia’s other proposed fee increases please contact us for further information.
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The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012 was passed into law by the Australian Parliament on 15 April 2012. The provisions of the new laws will come into force on 15 April 2013. Changes to the Trade Marks Act primarily involve the opposition and customs seizure provisions of the Act, as outlined below.
The opposition period is to be shortened from 3 months to 2 months.
Notice of Opposition
The Notice of Opposition will merely need to be filed with the Trade Marks Office and it is likely to be a simple form stating that a party opposes registration of a trade mark.
Statement of Grounds and Particulars
One month after filing the Notice of Opposition, the Opponent must lodge a statement of grounds and particulars detailing each ground of opposition and the particulars on which the Opponent intends to rely.
Notice of Intention to Defend
Within one month of the statement of grounds and particulars, an Applicant will need to file a Notice of Intention to Defend the opposition. Failure to file the Notice will result in the trade mark application lapsing in opposition proceedings.
Periods for lodging evidence
The time frames for the parties to prepare and serve their evidence are expected to be reduced.
Customs seizure provisions
A trade mark owner will have the ability to access multiple samples of seized goods, to remove such goods for inspection and the importer must make a claim for return in order to have the seized goods returned.
The Trade Marks Act will include provisions for additional damages in infringement proceedings, bringing the Trade Marks Act into line with the Copyright Act.
Presumption of registrability
Section 41 will be repealed and replaced to clarify that the presumption of registrability, as provided for under Section 33, does apply to section 41.
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The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012 was passed into law by the Australian Parliament on 15 April 2012. Some of the provisions of the new laws came into force on 15 April 2012 and the remainder will come into force on 15 April 2013.
The following infringement exemptions came into force on 15 April 2012.
An act done for experimental purposes relating to the subject matter of the invention will not be considered as an infringement of a patent. Examples of such acts include determining the properties of the invention, determining the scope of a claim relating to the invention, improving or modifying the invention, determining the validity of the patent, and determining whether the patent for the invention has been infringed.
The current infringement exemptions will be extended to non-pharmaceuticals, so that acts in obtaining regulatory approval for such subject matter in Australia or under the law of another territory will not be considered to constitute patent infringement.
The following changes aimed to increasing the threshold for patent validity will come into force on 15 April 2013. Under the transitional provisions, if a Request for Examination is filed prior to 15 April 2013 the application will not be subject to these new requirements.
Inventive and innovative step
The test for inventive step and innovative step will be expanded to include common general knowl- edge anywhere in the world. Furthermore, for inventive step considerations prior art information will no longer need to have been ‘ascertained, understood and regarded as relevant’ by the skilled person.
A specification will need to disclose a ‘specific, substantial and credible use for the invention’.
Fair basis will be replaced with a requirement that the claims be ‘supported by matter disclosed in the specification’ which is expected to result in the scope of patent rights being narrower than has previously been the case.
Specifications for both provisional and complete patent applications will need to be ‘clear enough and complete enough’ for a skilled person to perform the invention. This is a higher disclosure level for provisional patent specifications than the previous requirement that the application describe the invention in general.
Revocation of acceptance
The Commissioner may revoke acceptance of an application.
The current relatively liberal amendment provisions will be tightened to prevent applicants adding subject matter that was not disclosed in the specification as filed, except when the amendment is to correct an obvious mistake or clerical error.
The option of modified examination, based on a corresponding patent granted in a foreign country, will no longer be available.
Unless absolutely necessary to define the invention, omnibus claims will not be allowed.
The privilege provisions of the Patents Act have been extended to specifically include communica- tions with foreign patent attorneys.
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