13.75. The representative of Australia said that some of Australia's most innovative and creative products were generated by SMEs. Having IP protection meant that a smaller business had a competitive advantage in the market place, including in relation to investment and employment. Previously, Brazil had noted the difficulty and cost for small businesses in accessing the patent system.
13.76. Some features of the Australian IP system were particularly suited to the needs of smaller businesses. For example, the innovation patent was particularly useful for the needs of smaller businesses because it was a relatively fast, cost-effective and flexible mechanism for protecting and commercializing IP. Because of its lower inventive threshold, it was suitable for smaller advances on existing technology, and helped businesses acquire IP rights to protect their incremental inventions.
13.77. Citing an example, he said that Australia had some of the world's best surfing beaches, and one surfer wanted an easier way to carry his surf board to the beach. He created the 'Boardsling' a simple, heavy duty strap that hooked around the surfboard and could be slung over a shoulder, and protected his invention with an 'innovation patent'.
13.78. He emphasized that Australia placed importance on educating smaller businesses about IP. Smart Start was a publication about what businesses should know about IP. In addition, extensive online information and support on IP for business was available, including an online service that could assist SMEs to determine the suitability of their proposed trademarks.
13.79. For Australian SMEs there was a positive link between innovation and exports, and smaller businesses were encouraged to think proactively and long term about their growth and export plans and about protecting their IP in overseas markets. Australia's domestic market was small compared to some other WTO Members and if they were to grow, particularly in niche markets, its businesses, big and small, needed to look to overseas markets to sell their innovative and creative products, but they needed to be sure that their original ideas and distinctive marks would be protected.
13.80. An effective international trading system, including consistent rules for the protection and enforcement of IP worldwide, was integral to the success of smaller businesses in their export markets. Such a system led to further innovation and creation, which not only benefited the small businesses, but also enriched the Australian economy and society. Equally, foreign companies and innovators could confidently conduct business in Australia, giving Australians access to their distinctive products.