Trailer Magazine

Australian patent system works for Redarc

  • Posted on Tuesday 12th, June 2018.

South Australia-based manufacturing company, Redarc Electronics, has backed the Australian patent system, following a recent Federal Government decision to shelve plans to scrap the innovation patent classification, pending further public consultation.

The ‘Innovation Patent’ was introduced into the Australian intellectual property protection regime in 2001. It was intended to be a second tier of patent, which, according to Redarc, is relatively quick, easy and cheap to obtain, although it provides a monopoly for eight years as opposed to the 20 year term of the standard patent.

“The Innovation Patent has been criticised by some as being too easy to obtain and too difficult to overturn,” Redarc said in a statement. “However proponents in favour of the system argue that the innovation patent is useful in enforcement action, because it provides a faster route to patent protection than is available with a standard patent. This helps to stimulate innovation by Australian small to medium business enterprises, and provides an appropriate means for protecting lower level inventions that may not be entitled to standard patent protection.”

Redarc said Federal government had been hinting at plans to abolish the innovation patent system as part of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Productivity Commission Response Part 1 and Other Measures) Bill 2018. “However, in response to industry backlash, when the Bill was introduced to the Australian House of Representatives in late March 2018, the Government removed the section dealing with abolition of the innovation patent, and is now undertaking further industry consultation on the subject of innovation patents.”

Redarc CEO, Anthony Kittel, is supportive of the innovation patent.

“At Redarc we are always seeking to be innovative, and we spend millions of dollars on research and development in order to be at the cutting edge of technology,” said Kittel.

“It has been particularly frustrating to observe other companies, who devote no time or resources to their own research and development, simply copying our innovative products and getting away with it. The innovation patent is a useful part of our armoury to stop that copying,” he said.

In April 2018, Redarc was rewarded with a successful outcome, following patent proceedings issued against Great South Land (GSL). Redarc alleged that GSL copied its award winning ‘Tow Pro’ electric trailer brake controller, which was the subject of an Australian Innovation Patent. Redarc brought proceedings against GSL in the Federal Court, seeking restraining orders and damages. GSL, while not admitting liability, conceded to those orders and agreed to pay back its profits from the sale of its products, together with Redarc’s costs.

“This case was a good example of how effective the innovative patent can be in protecting our intellectual property,” said Kittel. “This gives Redarc incentive to invest more in research and development and helps Australia to be a smarter country. For as long as Redarc seeks to be innovative, it will be using legal tools such as the innovative patent to enforce its rights against copycat manufacturers.”

Piper Alderman Intellectual Property lawyer, Tim O’Callaghan, acted for Redarc in the action against GSL.

“The innovation patent is Australia’s recognition to the importance of small steps of innovative improvement, and is a very useful tool in preventing copycats,” said O’Callaghan. “Only China and Germany have a similar system.  In this case, we have seen firsthand how the ability to have an innovation patent is a major incentive for small to medium companies like Redarc to spend large sums of money on innovation. That is a very good thing for the country.”

The Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia (IPTA) is also in support of the Innovation Patent, and has been critical of the push for its abolition. 

"IPTA is opposed to plans to abolish the Innovation Patent System,” said IPTA council member, Grant Shoebridge. “The main users of the system are the very SME’s (small-medium business enterprises) that are acknowledged to be the main source of new jobs and growth in the Australian economy, and which largely support the Government’s jobs and growth agenda."

IPTA has been actively coordinating a bid to save the innovation patent system, and responded to the government’s decision to undertake further industry consultation. "IPTA is pleased with this development and welcomes the decision by IP Australia to undertake further consultation targeted at better understanding the needs of Australian SMEs, rather than fast-tracking the abolition of an important Australian innovation tool. IPTA will continue to lobby to retain innovation patents.”

Last month, Redarc expanded its DC-to-DC in-vehicle battery charger range, adding two Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) units, specifically designed for charging 24v LiFeP040-type batteries.

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