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Abstract

This article considers from an Australian perspective the impediments that copyright law places in the path of those who seek to use patent specifications and non-patent prior art documents in ways that are necessary to the proper functioning of the patent system. Until recently, copyright law in Australia had limited the uses to which members of the public could put patent specifications in that country. Those impediments have been removed as a result of an important legislative change to the way in which copyright in patent specifications can be enforced. The change gives the public a greater freedom to make use of patent specifications than it enjoyed before, and removes unwarranted restrictions upon the ways in which the public can reuse valuable information. However, what the amendment does not address is the impediments copyright imposes on using non-patent prior art documents in ways that advance the public interest