Patent regime axing a threat to small businesses: Ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has urged the federal government not to abolish the low-cost innovation patent regime, saying this would create a significant barrier to small businesses.

“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.”

Carnell warned that abolishing the system would effectively leave small businesses vulnerable to large businesses stealing their ideas and inventions.

“Small businesses 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.

The ASBFEO noted that many small businesses rely on the innovation patent system to attract funding and investors won’t even look at a company that doesn’t have those protections in place. It also noted that 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,” Carnell said.

The Senate is expected to debate the innovation patent regime as part of a suite of proposed intellectual property law changes. The ASBFEO has urged them to support amendments that will block the abolition of the said regime.

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