Australia is committed to sharing information with other WTO Members on its technical and financial cooperation activities in the area of intellectual property rights in fulfilment of Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement. This is a full report on Australia's intellectual property-related technical cooperation activities with developing and least developed countries. It builds upon annual update reports provided in 2012 (document IP/C/W/582/Add.2), 2013 (document IP/C/W/593/Add.7), 2014 (document IP/C/W/601), 2015 (document IP/C/W/610/Add.4), 2016 (document IP/C/W/617/Add.1), 2017 (document IP/C/W/632/Add.1), 2018 (document IP/C/W/647/Add.2), 2019 (document IP/C/W/655/Add.4), 2020 (document IP/C/R/TC/AUS/1), 2021 (document IP/C/R/TC/AUS/2) and 2022 (document IP/C/R/TC/AUS/3).
Australia fulfils its Article 67 technical cooperation commitment through multilateral, regional and bilateral programs and activities. Many activities are focused on developing and least developed countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia works closely with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat and other partners to assist developing and least developed countries to build their intellectual property capacity and systems.
Many of the technical cooperation activities implemented under Article 67 of the TRIPS Agreement align with Australia's strategic focus on using aid as a catalyst to promote economic growth and poverty reduction. This is embedded in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and our future investments, including proposed ongoing support for the WIPO-Australia Funds in Trust program, which will be influenced by these goals.
Websites containing information on Australia's intellectual property regime, which may be considered a technical cooperation resource, include the IP Australia website covering patents, designs, trademarks and plant breeders' rights (www.ipaustralia.gov.au); the Attorney-General's Department (Copyright | Attorney-General's Department (ag.gov.au)); and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website on international IP developments (Intellectual property | Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (dfat.gov.au)).
2 AUSTRALIAN ACTIVITIES WITH THE WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION (WIPO)
2.1 Australia-WIPO Funds in Trust
Since 2012, the Australian Government has supported the Australia-WIPO Funds in Trust (FiT) program, with our support to date totalling AUD 5.8 million. The latest iteration of the program (FiT3) concluded in March 2022. The Australian Government is currently considering funding arrangements for a further phase of the FiT program. FiT promotes economic growth in partner countries by helping to develop and implement Intellectual Property (IP) systems, build capabilities in IP and facilitate technology transfer. It has helped to create an enabling environment for private sector innovation and domestic and foreign investment. Future programs are likely to build off the four current FiT themes: development of the intellectual property system; technology transfer (knowledge transfer and commercialisation); addressing neglected tropical diseases; and copyright and related rights to assist the blind, visually impaired and other persons with print disabilities.
FiT3 Activities to support the development of the intellectual property systems included developing a judicial toolkit on IP adjudication ('IP benchbook') for judges and judicial officers. These were produced for both the Philippines and Viet Nam. The IP benchbooks are an important judicial resource, serving as a core element of future judicial capacity-building programs for judges and judicial officers.
In 2023 Australia is considering a fourth iteration of a WIPO-Australia FIT (FiT4). As with previous FiT programs it will focus on IP capacity building activities, which enables the development of IP systems and supports Australia's economic diplomacy aims in the Indo-Pacific region. An application for FiT4 will consider continuation of activities previously supported and possible new opportunities for funding.
3 OTHER MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL ACTIVITIES
3.1 Economic Cooperation Support Program and Regional Trade for Development Program under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)
The Regional Trade for Development (RT4D) Initiative, to which Australia has committed AUD 46 million out to 2028, provides technical assistance and capacity building to support eligible ASEAN countries realise the full benefits of an upgraded ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. In 2023 under AANZFTA RT4D committed to a range of IP capacity building activities for female-led businesses in Lao PDR.
From July 2022 to June 2023, IP Australia designed and delivered phase 3 of the AANZFTA project and RCEP scoping. The phase 3 program took a deeper dive into specific trade mark examination quality principles that ASEAN IP offices could incorporate in their quality management systems, notably: risk-based product sampling, continuous improvement and training, and customer centricity. The objective was to enhance quality management practices, and create greater predictability and consistency of examination outcomes across IP Offices in ASEAN. This in turn increases market confidence and encourages greater engagement by businesses who trade in our region.
On 22-24 November 2022, a regional workshop was held as a hybrid (in-person and online) event in Singapore. This workshop combined lessons learnt from earlier phases with practical steps for the implementation of trademark quality management systems. We achieved the workshop objectives to build on information sharing and capacity building in ASEAN for trade mark quality management systems. From February – April 2023, IP Australia conducted virtual tailored mentoring sessions as part of AANZFTA phase 3. Participants gained a deeper insight into Australia's trade mark quality management practices, and how to address issues currently facing ASEAN IP Offices such as trade mark backlogs, and resourcing constraints. This supports the goal to strengthen and develop IP infrastructure in our region, for a more robust ASEAN IP system.
IP Australia conducted a scoping study and gap analysis of signatory countries to identify and understand IP issues under the RCEP Agreement. This assessment sought to determine where technical assistance and capacity building could be provided to eligible ASEAN countries to assist in implementing RCEP commitments.
The scoping study contains a preliminary analysis of IP issues facing RCEP countries. It:
- identifies specific areas for improvement or issues within the RCEP region through a gap analysis questionnaire;
- analyses responses from the gap analysis questionnaire to develop a comprehensive understanding and possible solutions to the issues identified; and
- completes an initial gap analysis report, presenting findings and solutions from the preliminary study. This report also canvasses further background on IP rights, the RCEP Agreement and an overview of each RCEP country in the form of country profiles.