IP Australia has recommended that Australia should not join the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs following a recent cost-benefit analysis and report, in which it found that the costs outweigh the benefits.
Higher consumer costs
The Hague Agreement Report is the government’s first attempt to apply the Productivity Commission’s call for any proposals to reform IP laws to be economically justified and reflective of best practice. IP Australia, which conducted a recent public consultation, showed analysis that joining the Hague Agreement would provide Australian designers easier access to international markets in 68 countries by the filing of a single design application, and that the increase in terms of protection from 10 to 15 years would be beneficial. However, it determined these benefits are outweighed by the increased costs to consumers, despite these costs being both difficult to assess and prospective in nature.
A difficult balance
The evidence demonstrates non-residents currently file almost three times more designs in Australia than resident Australians file abroad and non-residents maintain these registrations for longer on average. Australian applicants can also file design applications already through the Hague Agreement, despite Australia not being a signatory. IP Australia, noted that fostering Australian-based innovation while protecting against increased costs to consumers is a difficult balance to achieve, and that it may be that the costs and benefits can only be assessed at a later date, should Australia join the Hague Agreement. Last week, IP Australia launched a business pack to support domestic firms entering the United States market, offering a suite of resources starting with trade marks.