Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Walter Werner

387.   Australia extends its sincere thanks to Switzerland for introducing this paper, which we are pleased to co-sponsor, on an issue that is assuming a growing importance for the entire membership of the WTO. 388.   As suggested by our Swiss colleagues, we have based our intervention around the three guiding questions listed at the end of the paper, which sought information on i) the local IP and knowledge based business landscape; ii) the IP regulatory environment facing new businesses; and iii) real world examples of successful start-ups and IP policy settings. 389.   Turning to the first of these questions, Australia enjoys one of the highest levels of entrepreneurial activity in the world. In 2016, an estimated 48.7% of all employing firms were 'innovation active', and nearly 15% of the Australian adult population was actively engaged in starting new businesses, equating to 2.2 million early stage entrepreneurs. 390.   It is difficult to determine the exact number of start-ups operating in Australia. By one measure2 the total number of start-ups rose from 954 to 1,465 - an increase of 54% - between 2015 and 2018. Another report found there were 2,770 start-ups in the State of Victoria alone. 391.   Despite these discrepancies, all sources agree that Australia's start-up ecosystem has grown dramatically in recent years. Access to finance is improving, and the start-up industry is becoming more mature. On average, start-ups are now surviving for longer, testament to their growing ability to develop marketable products and workable business models. 392.   In keeping with global trends, Australia's venture capital market declined sharply in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Since the GFC, Australian venture capital investment has averaged around AUD 300 million a year, down from the pre-GFC peak of AUD 900 million. However, it increased dramatically in 2016-2017, more than doubling to AUD 463 million, while venture capital fundraising jumped from AUD 211 million to AUD 959 million. 393.   While the venture capital market is well established, venture debt remains for the time being a relatively unfamiliar concept in Australia, with just three lenders operating in the local venture credit market. 394.   The Australian Government offers a number of programmes aimed at supporting venture capital and investment in early stage companies, including tax incentives, and flow-through taxation vehicles. 395.   We now turn to the second question, concerning the IP regulatory environment for new businesses, and the importance of international cooperation. 396.   Australia's IP system seeks to strike a balance between the needs of our inventors, entrepreneurs and creative artists, who require sufficient protections to encourage them to embark on their innovative work, and the needs of consumers and producers, who wish to benefit from the products and ideas which this innovative work creates. 397.   The Australia Government offers a range of programmes and support mechanisms aimed at helping local businesses bring their innovations to the marketplace. The IP Toolkit for Collaboration, for example, is designed to promote the commercialisation of IP by facilitating collaborative ventures between research organisations and industry. It offers a range of tools, including model contracts and advice on navigating difficult issues, such as confidentiality provisions and the use of existing IP. 398.   Another initiative, Source IP, connects businesses with Australian public-sector research organisations that are looking to license their patented technology. 399.   Australia's annual IP Summit builds understanding of our IP system by bringing together entrepreneurs, industry and government for a day long discussion on strategies for businesses looking to expand their commercial footprint, particularly overseas. In 2018, the theme was "Launch to Export – Take your Ideas Global", and work has already begun on the 2019 summit, which will focus in part on businesses expanding into China. 400.   Finally, the 'Accelerating Commercialisation' initiative provides support to innovators who are looking to commercialise their intellectual property. To be eligible for an 'Accelerating Commercialisation' grant, a project must aim to commercialise intellectual property in the form of a novel product, process or service. As well as financial support, participants also receive assistance from Commercialisation Advisers who closely monitor each project and provide more detailed guidance if required. 401.   Cooperation with our international partners makes a vital contribution to our broader efforts to create an IP regime that fosters innovation and creates a supportive environment for fledgling businesses. For example, we look to include commitments on IP in our free trade agreements to address developments in, and achieve a consistent international approach to, IP protection and enforcement. 402.   Australia is also committed to helping developing countries, particularly those in our own region, to build strong domestic IP regimes that support local entrepreneurs and encourage innovation. Our Funds in Trust (FiT) programme, which we implement in close cooperation with WIPO, has supported the development of national IP strategies and the creation of an IP toolbox that has been translated into local languages. It has also funded training activities in the fields of trademarks, copyrights and patents, and workshops on IP marketing, commercialisation, and women and IP. 403.   In a similar vein, IP Australia's Regional Patent Examination Training Programme (RPET) offers intensive competency-based patent examination training to examiners from ASEAN Intellectual Property Offices, to enable them to meet international Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) standards. This will in turn help create local regulatory environments that are conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. 404.   At the multilateral level, the global protection treaties administered by WIPO, such as the PCT, provide a clear demonstration of the benefits of international cooperation. While entrepreneurs and innovators have always had the option of pursuing protection for their inventions, trademarks and designs directly with individual IP offices, the WIPO-administered treaties substantially simplify the process for those wishing to market their innovations on a global scale. 405.   Turning to the third and final question, there is a range of Australian businesses that have expanded into global markets thanks to the protection afforded to their intellectual property. 406.   We offer the example of Win Win Parenting. Win Win Parenting, founded in 2013, provides education programmes that help working parents across Australia balance their work-life priorities. After establishing a strong business at home in Australia, working with a client list that included leading banks and universities, the company's founder set her sights on expanding overseas. Recognizing the importance of securing IP protection in foreign jurisdictions, the owner began the process of filing for trademark protection in the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Having initially secured the services of a local IP attorney, the company subsequently elected to seek protection via the Madrid Protocol, which allowed it to file simultaneously in all three countries, rather than having to deal individually with their respective IP offices.

The Council took note of the statements made.
50.   The Chair said that the item "Intellectual Property and Innovation: The Societal Value of IP in the New Economy – IP and New Business" had been put on the agenda at the written request by the delegations of Australia; the European Union; Japan; Switzerland; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; and the United States of America. Since the circulation of the revised draft agenda, Brazil had co-sponsored the item. Those delegations had also submitted a communication on this topic (circulated in document IP/C/W/648 and addendum) to allow Members to prepare for the discussion.
51.   The representatives of the United States of America, Switzerland, Australia, Chile, Japan, the European Union, Norway, Brazil, Singapore, India, Chinese Taipei, Canada, China, South Africa and Colombia took the floor.
52.   The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/90, IP/C/M/90/Add.1

2 Start-up Muster 2018 report.