At a glance
Policy ID: 7
Should an exclusion from patentability for matter offensive to the public be adopted, patent examiners would have to give consideration to ethical issues during examination. This would not be a routine exercise for examiners, who may lack the expertise to consider such issues.
In its 2010 report on patentable subject matter, the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) recognised this problem with the implementation of its recommendation. ACIP recommended that an advisory body be established to advise the Commissioner on whether the commercial exploitation of a particular invention would be wholly offensive to the reasonable member of the Australian public. The government accepted this recommendation in its response of 23 November 2011.
Public consultation took place on this issue in 2013.
Due to a lack of stakeholder support, this issue has been placed on hold, and may be considered further in future if circumstances change.
The High Court and Federal Court of Australia has issued several rulings that clarify the boundaries of patentable subject matter in Australia. At present there appears to be no need for further reform.