The Federal Treasurer has asked the Productivity Commission to enquire into Australia's intellectual property system and report back within 12 months (by August 2016)

The Terms of Reference direct the Commission to report on whether current intellectual property laws in Australia provide an appropriate balance between providing access to ideas and products, and encouraging innovation, investment and the production of creative works

In recommending any changes, the Commission is to have regard to:

  • incentives for innovation and investment, including freedom to build on existing innovation;
  • Australia's international trade obligations;
  • the relative contribution of intellectual property to the Australian economy;
  • the economy-wide and distributional consequences of recommendations, including their impacts on trade and competition
  • ensuring the intellectual property system will be efficient and robust through time, in light of economic changes;
  • how proposed changes fit with, or may require changes to, other existing regulation or forms of assistance; and
  • the relevant findings and recommendations of recently completed reviews.

Veteran copyright and IP watchers may be forgiven for a certain level of enquiry fatigue at the announcement, which follows hot on the heels of several other enquiries that seem to have traversed the same territory – in particular, the Harper Competition Policy Review of 2014-15, the government's own Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper of July 2014 and the Australian Law Reform Commission's report, Copyright and the Digital Economy, of February 2014

The Terms of Reference for the Enquiry are available at: It is not yet known when the Issues Paper will be released

If you would like to discuss issues that the Enquiry may raise in relation to your work or business, or if you would like assistance in formulating or drafting a submission, contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson or Ian McDonald (Special Counsel) at Simpsons Solicitors.