As briefly discussed in our previous article, the Australian and New Zealand governments have been working on implementing a single patent application and examination process for Australia and New Zealand.

Single Application Process

Under the proposed single application process,1 the Australian and New Zealand Intellectual Property Offices will each provide an electronic filing facility to enable an applicant to file an identical patent application in both countries in a single transaction. Each Patent Office will then issue an application number for the respective application in accordance with the law and practice of each country.

The filing date of an application filed through the single application process will be determined based on the date on which the application is received at each of the respective patent offices. For example, a patent application filed at 11 pm Canberra time at the Australian Patent Office, on a particular day, will receive the filing date of that day for the Australian application while the New Zealand application receives a filing date of the next day (due to the time difference between Australia and New Zealand).

It is also proposed, in New Zealand’s Proposals for Regulations to be made under the Patents Act 2013,2 that an applicant will pay a single combined application fee, request examination at the time of filing the applications, and file a Notice of Entitlement.

Single Examination Process

Under the proposed single examination process,3 the single patent application and examination process will effectively be two separate Australian and New Zealand patent applications that will be processed (i.e., filed and examined) at a single Patent Office. Both patent applications will be examined by a single examiner from either the Australian or New Zealand Patent Office, as appointed by the Patent Offices, depending on workload. The applicant will not be able to choose an examiner from a particular Patent Office. No further details have been released in relation to the single examination process.

Progress So Far

The Australian parliament recently passed the Intellectual Property Amendment Bill 20144 (Cwlth) having provisions to enable the single application and examination process. The law resulting from the Bill will confer New Zealand delegates (e.g., Examiners) with the powers and functions of the Australian Patent Office Commissioner under the Patents Act 1990 (Cwlth).

The single application and examination process provisions in the Bill will take effect on a single day, which will be agreed upon by both the Australian and New Zealand governments.

The next step in implementing the single application and examination process is for the New Zealand parliament to introduce a complementary Bill, bestowing delegates of the Australian Patent Office with the powers of New Zealand’s Commissioner of Patents under New Zealand Patents Act 2013.