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Calls to save the small business patent scheme

- September 10, 2019 2 MIN READ
  • IP laws to be debated in the Senate this week.
  • Axing patent paves the way for ‘ideas theft’.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell has called for politicians to support the small business patent scheme as the Government prepares to let the axe fall in a swathe of new intellectual property amendments set to hit the Senate this week.

The government is proposing to abolish the low-cost innovation patent scheme which has been used by small businesses and entrepreneurs to register products and inventions.

Carnell said abolishing the scheme would leave business owners vulnerable to theft of their intellectual property.

“It would be a mistake to phase out the innovation patent system without any replacement,” Carnell said.

“Although we acknowledge the current system is not perfect, it’s the only viable way for SMEs to access temporary or short-term IP protections, which is essential, particularly when disputes arise. Abolishing the innovation patent system would effectively leave small businesses vulnerable to large businesses stealing their ideas and inventions,” Carnell added.

The ombudsman suggests small business owners already face significant hurdles when trying to protect their IP rights.

“They don’t have in-house lawyers or patent expertise and often experience difficulties in accessing risk capital. That’s why my office continues to strongly argue against phasing out the innovation patent regime and instead either improve the existing system or replace it with something better.”

Carnell said many small business owners and entrepreneurs currently rely on the innovation patent scheme to attract investment funding, saying investors often won’t consider investing into a company that doesn’t have IP protection in place.

“Standard patents are more expensive and can take over two years to get. It’s just not a viable option for small businesses that want to protect their products.

“The fact is, by phasing out the innovation patent system, many of these small businesses will look to import products rather than innovate and that has serious ramifications for Australia’s economy.

“This week the Senate will debate the innovation patent as part of a suite of proposed intellectual property law changes and I urge them to support amendments stopping the abolition of the innovation patent regime.”

Carnell is not the only voice calling for the scheme to remain intact with former entrepreneur South Australian Senator Rex Patrick calling for amendments to the bill to allow the scheme to remain in place.

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