Australian legislation paves way for compulsory licensing

Australia's Senate has passed two-year-old legislation that would afford drugmakers a shot at compulsory licensing and allow them to share patent application reviews and approvals with New Zealand, with the decision of one being the decision of the other.

The bill, now called the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act of 2015, would amend several trade and IP laws. It was largely worked out in 2013, but its movement through Parliament was stalled by elections.

Aussie drugmakers could get a compulsory license from the Australian Federal Court to produce and export drugs to a country experiencing a health crisis. That would allow them to produce generic tuberculosis and malaria drugs, for example, to send to countries experiencing drug-resistant outbreaks. Otherwise, current patent law still applies.

The issue of compensation for the patent holder remains cloudy over but the law requires the generics maker to negotiate the amount of compensation it would pay the patent holder.

The other drug-related provision allows simultaneous drug-patent applications and approvals with IP Australia or the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand, whichever the drugmaker chooses, regardless of its home base.

- here's the legislation
- plus Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday coverage from Lexology

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