Monday, October 22, 2007

Australian Patent Office Abolishes Duty to Disclose Search Results From Foreign Offices

"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall."
- Steven R. Covey
Under Australian Patents Act 1990, patent applicants and patentees were obliged to inform the
Commissioner of Patents of the results of various prior art searches by foreign patent offices in respect of corresponding patent applications filed in overseas jurisdictions. The obligation covers the results of all documentary searches completed prior to the grant of the Australian patent.

In a recent announcement from IP Australia, this obligation was rescinded to make matters easier for practitioners (contrast this with the recent actions of the USPTO).

The thinking behind IP Australia's action was based on the fact that foreign patent office search and examination results are readily available over the Internet. As a result, patent examination staff could retrieve foreign patent office search and examination results during examination, instead of burdening applicants with this task.

After consulting with the public, IP Australia found that
The [public] submissions indicated that there was a general level of consensus that the existing search result disclosure provisions were onerous and costly for applicants and other users of the patent system. There was also a level of doubt expressed as to the value or the benefits arising from the present provisions. This echoes views expressed to IP Australia on other occasions. There was a general view that the proposed changes would not adversely impact on the validity of granted patents.
Also, after considering the public feedback, the Office refreshingly noted:
IP Australia notes that this feedback is in accordance with its own assessment of the
costs of the system to users. IP Australia considers that feedback of this nature
highlights the need for change.
Read IP Australia's Overview Document on rule changes (link)

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