The Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2015 was passed into law by the New Zealand Parliament on 16 November 2016.

The original Bill had been substantially amended following feedback from a range of stakeholders and a review by the New Zealand Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee; a summary of which can be found here.

Key changes introduced

The key changes to be introduced by the new legislation include:

  • Removal of lack of unity as a ground to oppose a patent being granted. This change is intended to apply retrospectively to all patents and applications which are subject to the provisions of the Patents Act 2013.
  • Establishment of a single trans-Tasman patent attorney regime and register.

Single economic market (SEM) patent initiatives shelved

Previous proposals to introduce a single patent application process (SAP) and single patent examination process (SEP) to streamline work-sharing between the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) and IP Australia were removed from the Bill prior to the final reading. Specifically, the New Zealand Commerce Select Committee considered that the SAP and SEP were unlikely to provide significant benefits to New Zealand in particular or to patent applicants or users of the system more generally.

IP Australia was originally working toward the establishment of a single economic market (SEM) patent system based on early indications of real benefits for applicants and each of the Australian and New Zealand Patent Offices. However, IP Australia have since issued a statement indicating they respect the New Zealand Government’s decision and work on the SAP and SEP initiatives has now ceased. It is unlikely that this initiative will be revisited in the near future.