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2.3.1 Legislation and Regulations

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2.3.1 Legislation and Regulations

Legislation pertains to the act of making or enacting laws. Whenever people talk about ‘the legislation,’ they are referring to a law or a body of laws. The legislation within a state or territory is the body of laws specifically enacted to control and administer the state or territory.

Regulations – also referred to as ‘rules’ or ‘administrative law’ – pertain to how the legislation is applied. For the most part, regulations are specific in nature. They are administrative ‘rules’ that describe rights as well as allocate responsibilities. Regulations can take many forms. For instance, they can be:

  • A self-regulating mechanism for an industry (e.g. a trade association)
  • Legal restrictions established by a government authority
  • Social regulations (e.g. ‘norms’, co-regulation, or market regulation) 
  • Actions of conduct imposing sanctions such as a fine.

Every organisation is subject to various laws, regulations, and Codes of Practice requirements. You must make yourself familiar with all relating to your organisation and its production. Fortunately, Australia has a number of laws pertaining to intellectual property. This means that your business assets can be protected by law. Moreover, IP Australia is generally responsible for intellectual property matters. As outlined by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, key IP laws and procedures include:

  • Patent protection

The manufacture, use, and/or selling of an invention can be protected under an Australian patent. Moreover, you can use the patent to license a third party to manufacture an invention after agreeing on terms and conditions. There are two types of patents granted in the country. These are:

  • Standard patent

This patent lasts for up to 20 years (25 years for pharmaceutical substances). The invention that claims a standard patent must be new, differing from existing technology. It must involve an inventive step, meaning it cannot be easily produced by an expert from the field in which it belongs. Moreover, the invention must ultimately be useable in an industry.

  • Innovation patent

This patent lasts up to eight years. It is meant to protect inventions with relatively short market lives (e.g. computer-based inventions). Unlike a standard patent which requires an inventive step, inventions that claim an innovative patent must include an innovative step. This exists when there is a substantial difference from the invention it innovates from, and this difference greatly improves the function and use of the previous invention.

Further Reading

IP Australia has a detailed guide to understanding patents and the process of applying for one. Their site will provide you with information on this Understanding patents.

  • Trade mark protection

A trade mark is a sign or symbol you use to distinguish your business, goods, and/or services from others available in the market. Businesses may register their respective trade marks as marketing tools. Once this is done, their registered trade marks will be legally protected. This means that others cannot use your brand.

Further Reading

IP Australia has a useful step-by-step guide to understanding trade marks and applying for their protection. Their site will provide you with detailed information on such Understanding trade marks.

  • Domain name registration

A domain name refers to the internet site address that directs and grants access to your website. Every domain is different, and you can register yours under national law. Addresses that end with ‘.au’ are officially administered and regulated by the .au Domain Administration (auDA). To register, you must select a domain name that is available and meets the policy for domain name eligibility and allocation.

Further Reading

More information regarding the process of design protection and registration is available on IP Australia’s website Understanding designs.

  • Copyright protection

The fifth and final element that merits discussion is copyright protection. Unlike those discussed above, automatic copyright protection exists in Australia under the national legislative framework. With some exceptions, no specific or additional registration is required to protect your material. By design, national copyright law protects the creation of new material. Moreover, Australia is a signatory to several international conventions on copyright.