HARMONISING INTELLECTUAL property across the Asia-Pacific region would allow Australia to implement tighter controls, the nation’s first legal officer has announced.
During an APEC intellectual property forum in Sydney last week, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock spoke of the benefits of having harmonised laws between jurisdictions, be it within Australia or between nations.
“You find here in the Australian context that if you don’t have unnecessary differences in laws it makes it easier for commerce to operate across boundaries and that would be equally the case in a broader international context.
“But it’s important that you have protection and additional benefits can be obtained if you’re able to harmonise your laws.”
Australia’s A-G is also keen for the country to play an influential role in promoting the policing of IP infringements in the region.
“It’s important that we have a proper enforcement regime because we want to set an example in the Asia-Pacific region, and increasingly countries within our region recognise the importance of protecting their intellectual property,” Ruddock said.
“We’re moving from a position of the past where some countries were prepared to accommodate pirating on the basis that they’d be able to pick up other people’s ideas and use them.”
He argued that improving IP laws will help balance fair use with the protections owners deserve.
“It is of concern because at the end of the day if people can’t be properly rewarded for their intellectual property you don’t get the sort of innovation which gives you meaningful advance and a novel product that’s worth having and using,” Ruddock said. “So, it’s a question of getting the balance right in relation to these matters.”
The A-G gave the example of Australia’s Free Trade Agreement with the US as a good lesson in the harmonisation of laws between nations.
“In relation to harmonisation, what you do is you look to see whether or not the objectives that have to be met are properly accommodated in whatever form you use,” Ruddock said.
“We have been able with one of our APEC partners, the United States, to develop a degree of harmonisation because of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and it was important in terms of, say, the length of term of copyright that we moved to a position of greater uniformity within the region and we did.”