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‘Raising the Bar’ in Parliament

For some years now, the focus of copyright owners and policy makers has been on online infringement of copyright materials – making it easy to lose sight of the problem still posed by infringement in the hard copy environment. The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011, which was introduced into Parliament on 22 June, seeks to deal with enforcement problems that continue to exist in the physical realm.


It is common for counterfeit products imported into Australia to include infringing copyright material (e.g. brochures accompanying counterfeit sunglasses are likely to infringe copyright). The Copyright Act 1968 includes provisions that enable a copyright owner to file a notice of objection with the Australian Customs and order Protection Service to prevent goods infringing their copyright from entering the local market. [1]


As part of Raising the Bar, the Government has moved to close loopholes in the current customs seizure provisions in both the Copyright Act and the Trade Marks Act 1995.


According to Senator Carr: “The Bill improves the existing arrangements by permitting Customs officials to provide more information to copyright and trade mark owners about goods that are seized at the border. The Bill also requires that Customs only release seized goods if the importer lodges a claim for return, which must include the identity and address of the importer and be filed within a specified time period. These changes will help rights owners in deciding whether or not to commence an infringement action. And then they will also help in the commencement of infringement proceedings.” [2]


It is also interesting to note that the bill proposes amendments that will bring enforcement measures in the Trade Marks Act more in line with those in the Copyright Act. This includes allowing for additional damages and introducing a tiered system of offences into the Trade Marks regime.


To view the full text of the Bill and the Explanatory Memorandum, Click here.


[1] See Part V Division 7 Seizure of imported copies of infringing copyright material.

[2] Second Reading Speech 22 June 2011, to view link Click here