Australia: Intellectual Property and Technology Insights

Last Updated: 25 July 2011

Technology & Sourcing

Japan , June 2011

Power Shortages Disrupt Japan's Supply Chain

Japan's supply chains continue to face power shortages following the earthquakes last March. Power shortages have caused many operations to close down or operate at less than capacity. While the situation has improved since March, businesses continue to report delays and concerns regarding the availability of supplies. Businesses are now seeking assurances from suppliers regarding their ability to weather the current power shortages, including anticipated shortages during the summer months. Smaller second and third tier providers are under significant pressure as credit tightens.

Intellectual Property

Hong Kong , February 2011

Reward scheme to combat copying and distribution offence

On 16 February 2011, the Hong Kong government introduced the Reward Scheme to Combat Copying and Distribution Offence. The scheme, which is administered by Hong Kong Customs, encourages the public to report copyright crimes by providing cash rewards for information that leads to an arrest and/or criminal conviction for copyright offenses.

Malaysia, February 2011

Expedited Patent Examination in Malaysia

On 15 February 2011, the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia introduced regulations to allow for expedited examination of patent applications. The regulations are intended to reduce the backlog of pending applications by accelerating the allowance and issuance of patents. The expedited examination process is only applicable to Paris Convention or non-PCT patent applications.

China , June 2011

IPR exchange opens in Tianjin

A pilot intellectual property right (IPR) exchange was recently established in Tianjin. The exchange allows investors to buy shares in the IPR of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to ease their financial woes.

Institutes and individuals will use the exchange to buy and sell IPR shares, much as they would in a normal fund market. Publicly traded IPRs are expected to come from China's emerging industries, including the cultural sectors. The Tianjin Binhai Intellectual Property Exchange International, operated by the government-backed Northern Technology Exchange Market and the Tianjin IPR Service Center, is the first of its kind in China and is considered to be a "financial innovation" by the Tianjin municipal government.

Australia , June 2011

High Court Will Hear Ground Breaking ISP Copyright Case

The film industry's litigation against Australian ISP, iiNet, could be heard in the High Court as early as August. The litigation tests the claim whether ISPs should be liable for authorising copyright after failing to act on infringement notices. The case is a world first.

The plaintiffs, a consortium including US film producers, appealed a Federal Court decision, which rejected the plaintiff's case on the grounds that the notices had insufficient evidence of infringement. The Federal Court suggested that the notices should also have included:

"A reimbursement and indemnity by the plaintiffs for iiNet's costs and liability in investigating infringements and terminating accounts; or information about how the "evidence" of infringement in the notice letters was collected – this could include a "verification on oath" as to the truth of that information."


Singapore , May 2011

Data Protection Law Set for Enactment

After five years of review, Singapore is now ready for its own data protection law. In February, the Singapore government announced its plans to put forth the nation's first data protection law, which will protect "personal data against unauthorised use and disclosure for profit."

Although still in early stages, the proposed law is expected to (1) require data users to obtain consent for the disclosure of personal data and (2) establish a Data Protection Council as the country's data privacy watchdog. There are also speculations that the proposed law could contain provisions requiring data users to notify their data subjects of data breaches – an onerous requirement which was debated but abandoned in the United Kingdom in 2008.

The proposed law is expected to be introduced in the Singaporean parliament by 2012.

Korea , May 2011

New Data Privacy Law Implemented

Korea is only a few months away from having its very own data privacy law. The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), the country's first comprehensive data protection law, was enacted on 29 March 2011 and will take effect on 30 September 2011. Once in force, the legislation will obligate data users to obtain informed consent from their data subjects in respect of the collection, use and disclosure of their personal data. The PIPA will also impose restrictions to the extent to which individuals may be requested for their personal data and provide for class-action mediation and litigation in respect of personal data related disputes.


China , April 2011

New Guidelines for Online Third -party Payment Service Providers

In April 2011, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCO M) published its long awaited guidelines for e-commerce third party payment service providers in a bid to regulate this rapidly developing business to consumer industry.

The guidelines aim to create "fair, honest and safe" online transaction platforms by spelling out the obligations of business users, consumers and third party payment service providers. The guidelines cover key issues such as the confidentiality of transaction data, retention of transaction records, provision of backup systems and fair competition.

China , April 2011

China to implement new Internet regulation

In April 2011, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced plans to issue new regulations aimed at reducing unfair competition within China's internet industry. The announcement comes close on the heels of a widely reported spat between two Chinese internet giants, Tencent and Qihoo 360, over business practices that MIIT deemed as "improper competitive behaviour".

India , April 2011

India 's New Telecom Policy May Ease Merger Rules

India is expected to relax restrictions on mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications sector. The India Communications Minister told reporters in April 2011 that the rules could be relaxed provided there are at least six players remaining at the conclusion of any deal in a specific telecommunications service area. The new national telecom policy, which is expected to launch later this year, is expected to trigger a wave of consolidation in this highly competitive market.

Hong Kong , March 2011

TVB Shareholding Change Approved

In March 2011, the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority approved a change in shareholding structure of Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), whereby TVB's 103 year old founder and chairman Run Run Shaw sold 26 percent of the voting shares of TVB to a consortium comprised of Charles Chan, the chairperson of ITC Corporation, Cher Wang, the founder and chairperson of HTC Corporation, and Providence Equity Partners, a global private equity firm.

The approval indicates that regulators are satisfied that, upon completion of the sale, management and control of TVB will continue to be exercised from Hong Kong, and that TVB's domestic free television programme service will continue to be aimed primarily at the Hong Kong market.

Life Sciences

India , January 2011

Foreign Takeovers of Indian Pharmaceutical Companies

The Indian government is considering whether to impose restrictions on foreign ownership of domestic pharmaceutical businesses. The restrictions could require foreign companies to obtain government approval prior to seeking more than a 49 percent share in any Indian pharmaceutical company. A large number of high profile foreign takeovers has led to concerns that foreign ownership will lead to higher prices, making generic drugs inaccessible to India's poor.

China & Hong Kong , January 2011

Harbor BioSciences Will Have Its Drugs Developed by a Large Chinese State-owned Pharma Company

Harbor BioSciences, Inc, a leader in the development of adrenal steroid hormones, announced that it has licensed the research and development rights for three of its products, exclusively in China and Hong Kong, to the China State Institute of Pharmaceutical Industry (CS IPI). Harbor BioSciences, Inc retains rights to these products in the US and the rest of the world.

CS IPI sells generic drugs and traditional Chinese medicines in China and Hong Kong. Harbor BioSciences, Inc believes this is the first agreement of its kind between a western drug company and a stated owned Chinese drug developer. CS IPI will finance all of the product development in China and will supply the licensed products to Harbor BioSciences, Inc for use in its clinical studies and sales outside China.

India , March 2011

Disputes over Pharmaceutical Data Exclusivity Stalls India –EU Free Trade Negotiations

The subject of pharmaceutical data exclusivity continues to hold up free trade negotiations between India and the European Union. Data exclusivity relates to the technical data provided by innovator companies to state regulators to prove the safety and usefulness of their products.

Without data exclusivity, other companies can use that technical data to obtain regulatory licenses to produce cheaper "bio-equivalent" drugs. The European Union argues that data exclusivity is essential for further investment in India. Opponents argue that it keeps cheaper pharmaceutical options out of the market.

Australia , February 2011

Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) Continues Gene Patent Debate

ACIP released its final report on Patentable Subject Matter, which rejected calls to exclude gene patents from the Patents Act. ACIP argued that specific exclusions could stymie growth in new technologies. ACIP also stated that access issues with beneficial technologies were best addressed through government programs such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or Medicare (ie subsidised health care), rather than the patent law.

ACIP's report will significantly inform the gene patent debate in Australia, which is currently being considered in the Australian Parliament through the Patent Amendment (Human Genes and Biological Materials) Bill 2010 and by the Federal Court in the litigation challenging Myriad Genetic's breast cancer susceptibility gene patents.

Media And Entertainment

Australia , June 2011

Australia Announces Reform to Screen Production Incentives

In an aim to promote screen production in Australia, the Australian government announced plans to increase tax offsets for Australian projects, and, at the same time, reduce qualifying thresholds.

The tax offsets are refundable tax rebates given to Australian screen projects that meet qualifying Australian expenditure thresholds (QAPE).

If these changes are implemented, the package of Australian screen production incentives will be as set out in the table below:

Offset Type Level of Offset Minimum Total QAPE
Producer Offset Feature films 40% of QAPE for qualifying films $500,000 (was $1 million)
  Films other than other feature films 20% of QAPE for qualifying films $500,000 (was $1 million)
Location Offset 16.5% of QAPE for qualifying films. (was 15%) $15 million
PDV Offset 30% of QAPE on post, digital and visual effects production (PDV) for qualifying films. (was 15%) $500,000

© DLA Piper

This publication is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. It is not intended to be, and should not used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. DLA Piper Australia will accept no responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this publication.

DLA Piper Australia is part of DLA Piper, a global law firm, operating through various separate and distinct legal entities. For further information, please refer to

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