Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Amendment Bill - First reading

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

STUART SMITH: It is great to speak on the Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. It is an important bill, and I think there is general agreement across the House on that.

It aligns our patent laws with those of Australia and builds on the CER agreement that was signed in 1983, 33 years ago. It is ironic that we are talking about that tonight.

There is great agreement across the House about the aligning of these two countries’ laws and getting a single patent application and examination process across the two countries. We were talking earlier about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and really this is just an extension of what CER is, effectively.

We have also heard today that we have fewer patents, based on our population, than we should have, compared to other countries. I think that goes to our smaller market and the economies of scale that are required to do research and development and to get a patent across the line.

The cost of a patent means that you have to sell a significant number of goods or an idea to make that patent worthwhile and that application worthwhile. So I think we have a smaller market.

We must innovate. But getting that scale across markets, with agreements like the CER agreement, makes it much more viable for businesses to go out and innovate. I do agree with that.

I think it is quite important that while we have an economy that has a major plank in it based around primary production that we do innovate.

Those innovations come often from that industry and those businesses, in an engineering sense anyway, that I know have developed products but have struggled to get the market size for them to warrant the cost of applying for that patent, which is very, very expensive.

Certainly, being able to do that in one application across both markets will really seriously lower those costs and give those innovative companies an opportunity to consider taking that next step and enhancing the value of their business and our economy.

So it is with great pleasure that I commend the bill to the House.