Productivity Commission puts design protection in the too hard basket

Melbourne, 2 May 2016 – The Australian Design Alliance [AdA], a collaboration of 14 peak bodies, is deeply concerned at the lack of understanding of the Intellectual Property (IP) regime required to support a flourishing Australian design sector demonstrated by the Productivity Commission (PC) in its draft report released last week.

The report into Australia’s unsatisfactory IP arrangements fails to suggest viable alternatives, such as extending the term of protection or creating unregistered design rights.  In doing so it fails to recognise the critical role that design protection can play in fostering creativity and innovation.

The draft report also does little to allay concerns about Australia’s protection for “works of applied art” such as furniture and other mass-produced, utilitarian designs under copyright law.  Unlike works of fine art, creators of applied art objects that are mass-produced are generally not entitled to copyright protection, and are left vulnerable to blatant copying unless they apply for design protection.

The draft report has raised major concerns amongst [AdA] members who are acutely aware of the IP issues affecting its members, in particular industrial, fashion and furniture designers.

CEO of the Australian Design Alliance Jo Kellock says;

“According to last July’s Creative Industries Innovation Council report Creative Business in Australia, the creative sector is worth $90.19 billion to the national economy annually.  We want the Productivity Commission to demonstrate a clear understanding of designs role in innovation and that it is prepared to recommend the changes to Australia’s legislative framework that will support the design sector.”

“Without this the [AdA] believes that innovation is being handicapped by practises such as the flow of materials brandishing false claims, the growth of imported replicas which transfer the commercial windfall to an offshore entity and ‘knockoff’ practises that stymy emerging talent, denying designers a chance to secure an order, let alone build a business.”

The PC inquiry was first commissioned by the previous Treasurer Joe Hockey in August 2015 and was framed by an issues paper released 7 Oct 2015.  To date it has attracted 149 submissions.  The PC has called for responses to the 601 page document by the 3rd June 2016 and has a series of public hearings planned for June.

More information can be found at http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/intellectual-property#draft
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For more info contact Jo-Ann Kellock 0417 348 924

Information about the Australian Design Alliance The [AdA] is a self-funded not for profit advocacy and facilitation organisation, with a combined membership amongst the alliance organisations close to 150,000 with a broader reach to over 500,000 design professionals. A brief can be found at www.australiandesignalliance.com