Shane Rattenbury, the Productivity Commission, and the Right to Repair: Intellectual Property, Consumer Rights, and Sustainable Development in Australia

Matthew Rimmer
2 min readOct 16, 2023

Berkeley Technology Law Journal

Matthew Rimmer

ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury MLA

Abstract

This Article tells the story of the fight for the right to repair in Australia. It is intended to complement comparative research elsewhere, looking at the right to repair in the United States and Canada; the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the European Union; and other jurisdictions, such as South Africa. Part II of this paper considers the politics of the right to repair in Australia. It explains how Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury has sparked a larger law reform inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the right to repair. It highlights how Australia is particularly promising in terms of law reform — due to an unusual consensus amongst the major political parties across the usual divides. Part III focuses on the debate over intellectual property and the right to repair in Australia, and the recommendations of the Productivity Commission. It argues that there needs to be more than just copyright law reform; there should be matching reforms in designs law, trade mark law, patent law, trade secrets, and data protection. Part IV considers the recommendations of the Productivity Commission regarding consumer law and competition policy. It highlights the need for further law enforcement action to protect the right to repair. Part V explores the discussion about the right to repair in the context of sustainable development–looking at submissions on e-waste, the circular economy, and sustainable development. It contends that there should be greater law reform in these areas (going well beyond the limited recommendations of the Productivity Commission in this area). Part VI concludes by noting that the Productivity Commission has asked for action in particular markets in respect of automobiles, agricultural machinery, and tablets. The Article calls for the Australian Parliament to go further and recognise a more broadly based right to repair. Such a recognition will require a holistic approach, involving reforms to intellectual property laws, consumer rights and competition policy, and regulation of the environment and sustainable development. It maintains that it is necessary that the jurisdiction of Australia keep pace on the right to repair with its comparative partners.

Keywords

  • intellectual property,
  • consumer law,
  • competition policy,
  • e-waste,
  • product design,
  • planned obsolescence,
  • the right to repair,
  • productivity commission,
  • Australian politics

Reference

Matthew Rimmer. ‘Shane Rattenbury, the Productivity Commission, and the Right to Repair: Intellectual Property, Consumer Rights, and Sustainable Development in Australia’ (2023) 37 (3) Berkeley Technology Law Journal 989–1056, https://btlj.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/0002-37-3-Rimmer.pdf QUT ePrints: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/240739/, SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4213963 BePress Selected Works: https://works.bepress.com/matthew_rimmer/401/ OSF: https://osf.io/z3stp/

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Matthew Rimmer

Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law, QUT. #Copyright #Patent #Trademark #plainpacks #Access2meds #SDGs #Climate #IndigenousIP #trade #TPP