Reviewing patent policy: an exercise in futility?


By Hazel V.J. Moir

In 1984, Don Lamberton wrote a two-page disclaimer to a review of the Australian patent system, pointing out that there was nothing economic about the review and that it simply pandered to special interest groups. Some 30 years later, the Productivity Commission has been given a shorter time frame (one year) and a broader remit (all intellectual property). This paper reviews the issues addressed in the Industrial Property Advisory Committee (IPAC) review of 1984. Since it was completed, substantially more empirical evidence has become available, while room for policy improvement has been curtailed by international trade treaties. While the Productivity Commission will take a sound economic approach, the breadth of its remit may prevent full appreciation of the critical issues in patent policy. This paper considers the options remaining to the Commission to recommend improvements in the national interest. Whether these will be taken up depends on the priority given to the interests of small but powerful lobby groups.

page: 431 – 443
Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation
Volume 33, Issue 4

SKU: 0810-90281229853

This paper is available for download on JSTOR

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