back to article Australia ponders patent refresh to restrain trolls

Australia’s patent system will be overhauled to make life harder for cynical abusers of the patent process. The review will focus on 'innovation patents', a type of patent introduced in 2001 to encourage IP protection for SMEs and function to protect “simple inventions and improvements to existing technologies”. Such patents …


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  1. Neoc

    I don't understand...

    "The consultation paper states that the changes have been sought due to government concern over “evergreening”- a strategy in which companies could use innovation patents to effectively extend the life of their patents."

    I am not a patents lawyer, so I do not understand how an innovation patent extends the life of an existing patent.

    I have patent A, which describes a process.

    I have patent B, which describes an improvement to the process in Patent A.

    Surely Patent A can expire without invalidating Patent B - in other words, W&D can now use the process described in Patent A so long as they do not use the improvement described in Patent B.

    So how the hell does the "improvement" extend the original? Or were the lawyers and politcos complete f*-wits when they drafted the legislation?

    1. Combat Wombat

      Re: I don't understand...

      Evergreening mainly applies to drugs.

      You take a complex drug, and patent it.

      Then, when your patent is about to expire, you tweak it ever so slightly. Not enough to change the effectiveness of the drug, but just enough to make it appear like a different drug to the patent lawyers.

      It keeps the cost of the drug up, and keeps the generic manufacturers out of the market

      1. Neoc

        Re: I don't understand...

        Even with your example, I still don't understand how that stops me from using the pre-tweaked drug now that *that* patent has expired.

        1. Angus 2

          Re: I don't understand...

          It seems the main idea is to put up as many blocks and obstructions to possible manufacturers of generic drugs to either extend the time it takes for them to get to market or to drive the costs up as much as possible to make them less attractive.

          There is a description here in an article from from 2004 about how it works.

          Onthe Wikipedia page about Evergreening it also talks about Australia and how the FTA with the US affects anti Evergreening legislation here.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ban software patents

    Ban design patents

    Ban patents without a true inventive step (most of them are obvious)

    Ban the "via wireless" type of patents, where they take an old idea, a new tweak, and get a patent

    Ban lawyers determining if its patentable - only science and engineering people should have a say.

    Raise costs for big companies (with big lawyer teams), lower then for singletons (who need the protection)

    Ban selling patents, you can only licence them under limited terms.

    Make it easy and cheap to challenge.

    Any broad patent is automatically reassessed with an eye to invalidating it.

    14 year maximum term, no follow on patents to extend the life, if its assessed as similar to your old patent, it gets the same end date, and gets rolled in.

    There, that would be a start.

    1. g e

      Re: Simple

      And post a bond proportional to 50% of damages you're seeking, minimum £100M if your turnover is more than 10x the defendant's, just to get your day in court.

      Non-refundable unless you're 100% victorious.

  3. Steven Roper

    It's very simple

    Any company caught "evergreening" is put into mandatory receivership, its entire assets are confiscated by the government, and the top line management including the CEO go to prison for 30 years.

    That'll make the fucking greedy bastards think twice.

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