Issues Magazine

Articles about Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Valuable Assets

By Joanna Jones

The first step to protecting your creative and intellectual effort is to identify and classify your intellectual property to determine the most appropriate way to protect it.

Broadly speaking, intellectual property (IP) is a term for a group of rights provided for by law that affords protection for “creative and intellectual effort”. Intellectual property rights fall into two primary categories: registrable and non-registrable rights.

For Myriad Genetics, the gene patent fight isn't over yet

By Dianne Nicol

Myriad Genetics is continuing to defend its patents for genes involved in breast cancer even though the US Supreme Court rules they were invalid.

Whether sequences of genetic material can be patented has been a matter of heated debate for the past decade or more.

In many countries, patents have been granted for isolated gene sequences, methods of isolating sequences, methods of using sequences for diagnosing genetic diseases, and a whole range of other gene-related products and methods.

Will Obama's moves to contain patent trolls be enough?

By David Glance

US President Barack Obama has announced reforms to the US patent system to combat the dramatic rise in legal claims from Non-Practising Entities .

Patents may have once seemed like a good idea. At least it seemed that way to the Venetians, who in 1474 declared the publication and protection of the “works and devices” of “men of great genius” would encourage others to apply their genius and ultimately benefit their society as a whole.

Scientific Innovation in Australia

By John Cusick

Australians can be proud of inventions like the Victa lawn mower and the cochlear implant, but how does our scientific innovation fare in a global sense? Changes to Australian patent law aim to help researchers and innovators achieve success in their own country.

In broad terms, scientific innovation in Australia depends on a strong scientific research community and the development of new ideas that can be commercially exploited. A key factor to scientific innovations is the ability for scientists to make money from their research so that they can conduct further research and development.

It’s Time Big Pharma Took Its Medicine

By Philip Soos

Philip Soos proposes a new system whereby the government directly finances research and development, and all drugs are produced as generics at market-competitive prices.

Over the past couple of decades, the pharmaceutical industry has come under attack for its perceived shortcomings amid claims that its greedy, profiteering nature has caused significant harm.

However, these problems stem not from the profit motive, but rather because in 21st-century, technologically advanced Australia, pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) is financed by means of 15th-century medieval government monopoly: patents.

Reproduced from The Conversation (

A crowning glory: patent law and public health

By Matthew Rimmer

Tthe Australian Parliament is debating a bill on patent law reforms that will improve access to cancer testing and treatment and essential medicines for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Australian patent law reforms are critical to ensuring Australians have access to vital health-care services and technologies and that people in developing countries have access to affordable, life-saving medicines.

This week (ending 21 June 2013), the Australian Parliament is debating a bill on patent law and public health entitled the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2013 (Cth).

Biological Patent Amendment: Good Intentions, Unnecessary Risk

By Julian Clark

Dangerous uncharted waters lie ahead if our politicians vote to support the proposed amendment of Australia’s Patents Act to ban patents on biological materials and genes.

No one can deny that improved medical treatments and equity of access to them are essential to improving our community’s quality of life. We all know of someone who suffers from, or has died from, a debilitating condition such as diabetes, chronic infection, dementia, mental illness or cancer. It is a simple fact that timely and effective treatment of these conditions depends on access to the latest pharmaceuticals, which are protected by patents.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is a not-for-profit organisation that takes many approaches to translating its innovations into successful medicines. In some cases we work with philanthropists or non-governmental agencies; in other cases we work with the biopharmaceutical industry. We choose the partner that will help us deliver benefits to patients as quickly as possible and patent our inventions to improve their chance of delivering benefits. If our partnerships with the private sector are successful we reinvest any royalties that we receive back into our research effort.

The Power of IP

By Christine Emmanuel

What’s the point of protecting intellectual property? Christine Emmanuel outlines its origins and her experiences in the science IP profession.

Imagine you bought a cheap house, renovated and improved it, and sold it on at a higher price. Smart move? You can do the same thing with your intellectual property (IP).

Intellectual property includes a wide variety of rights such as literary, artistic and scientific works, performances and broadcasts, inventions, scientific discoveries, industrial designs, trade marks, and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

A Career in Science IP
Christine Emmanuel started off studying science and economics at Monash University and then, after a year working and travelling in Europe, came back to Australia and worked at the CSIRO as an experimental scientist.

Not convinced that the life of science was for her, Christine decided to move sideways from science to intellectual property, which seemed a natural progression at the time. Her science degree and experience working at Ciba Geigy (UK) for a year, and then with the CSIRO, provided great grounding and she jumped at the opportunity to join the Australian Patent Office. She headed off to Canberra to work as a patent examiner for a few years.

Twenty years later, having worked in IP for both private practice and in-house firms in Europe and Australia, Christine has the biggest challenge yet: balancing the role of Executive Manager of Intellectual Property at CSIRO while raising a family with two children. She finds her work at CSIRO hugely rewarding, surrounded by wonderful people, wonderful technologies and so many challenges building and improving IP management processes and practices for such an iconic Australian organisation.

Do Patents Alter the Direction of Scientific Inquiry? Evidence from a Survey of Academic Scientists

By Paul H. Jensen and Elizabeth Webster

Nearly half of the academic scientists in a recent study reported that their choice of research projects had been affected by the presence of other parties’ patents. Issues with patent permissions and the culture of the workplace have the largest influence over whether or not patents affect the direction of research.

As universities around the world have pursued more aggressive commercialisation strategies, debate has intensified about the potentially deleterious effects of patenting on the scientific community. In particular, concern has been expressed that patents may increase secrecy, hinder informal knowledge transfer and alter the trajectory of scientific inquiry. Although there is empirical evidence from surveys of academics in support of these claims, others have questioned the contention that patenting has a damaging effect on academic endeavours.

This article is adapted with permission from Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia Working Paper No. 5/10, November 2010. The full paper is at

The Patent Amendment (Human Genes and Biological Materials) Bill: No Barrier to Biotech Patenting

By Luigi Palombi

In late July, the Court of Appeals for the US Federal Circuit held that human genes are patentable subject matter. The ramifications of this decision have yet to be felt in Australia. Are our politicians prepared to stand up to the biotechnology industry and pass the Amendment Bill into law?

The Patent Amendment (Human Genes and Biological Materials) Bill currently under Senate review (see box) is very unpopular with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, patent attorneys, patent lawyers, universities, scientific research institutes, scientific associations and leading Australian scientists. Professor Ian Frazer, Director of the Diamantina Institute for Immunology and Cancer Research and CEO of Translational Research Institute, wrote in his submission:

New Plant Varieties: How Can You Protect Your Investment?

By Peggy G. Lemaux

Public and private sector individuals invest many hours and large sums of money developing new crop varieties, but how do they protect those investments?

Think for a moment about the investment you would make if you developed a new corn variety in your backyard – imagine the painstaking identification of the parental varieties you would have needed to make the right crosses and the countless hours spent inspecting the plants from the crosses to find the ones with the drought-tolerant trait you were looking for. And you succeeded!

The Importance of Good Laboratory Notebook Practice

By Joanna Jones

Take note: poor laboratory notebook documentation could cost you! Your laboratory notebooks can be critical in establishing your rights to an invention.

First published in Chemistry in Australia (
* Diligence of the inventor to reduce the invention to practice after conception is also important in determining who is the first to invent. For example, if the inventor who first conceives the invention does not reduce it to practice until after the second inventor, the second inventor may still be considered to have made the invention first if the inventor who conceived the invention first was not diligent in reducing the invention to practice following its conception. In addition, abandonment of an invention following conception or reduction to practice can also lead to loss of rights to the invention.

Patent Amendment Bill Does Not Address Community Concerns

By Anna Lavelle

The Patent Amendment (Human Genes and Biological Materials) Bill was introduced to the Senate late last year and immediately referred to a new Senate Inquiry. The Bill’s contents have escalated concerns about this long-running and complex debate.

In my testimony to the Senate Inquiry’s public hearing into the Patent Amendment (Human Genes and Biological Materials) Bill before Parliament in April this year, I gave evidence that the proposed Bill fails completely to address any of the valid concerns raised by the community about gene patents and should be rejected.

Smarter than Smartphones?

By By Mike Lloyd

New technology is untangling the complex network of patents at the centre of a litigation war between smartphone companies.

Many Australians are now using smartphones, the all-singing all-dancing devices that combine the functions of phone, computer, email, games machine, music player and video screen in a compact device. These remarkable gadgets are helping to spark revolutions overseas, and back in the more settled parts of Australia are changing the way we live, communicate and interact with each other. Smartphones are advancing rapidly as well, with the Apple iPad and other tablets merging the gap between phones and computers, and threatening to replace many of their uses.

Reproduced from Australasian Science (

The Wrongs of Copyright

By Brian Martin

What is copyright and who really benefits from it? The open access alternative challenges the rationale of copyright and side-steps powerful interests.

You’re sitting at a meeting and you scribble down some notes about what’s happening, or text some comments to a friend. Or perhaps you draw a silly-looking picture.

What you’ve just written is automatically covered by copyright law – you don’t even need to add the copyright symbol ©. You immediately have certain rights over the text. Only with your permission can others reproduce these creations. This copyright lasts a long time – currently in Australia for the duration of your life and then 70 more years.

I thank Chris Moore and Colin Salter for valuable comments.

Intellectual Property – Something Weird’s Going Down in the Patent Office

Issues 96 cover

Issues 96: Intellectual Property

By Luigi Palombi

How can natural DNA, something no person invented, be patented? James Watson, John Sulston, Baruch Blumberg and Joseph Stiglitz think it shouldn’t be.

When Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, the presentation speech described the significance of their breakthrough:


By Sally Woollett

A glimpse into this edition of Issues.

Intellectual property (IP) arises from intellectual activity in a whole range of fields, including scientific and technological endeavour. It comprises a bundle of rights, some subsisting in the work itself and some requiring registration.

Christine Emmanuel, patent and trade mark attorney at CSIRO Operations, compares buying a cheap house with the potential of IP as you can improve it and sell at a higher price.

She explains (p.4): “The patent protection, and therefore the monopoly right, lasts for 20 years unless challenged in a court of law”.