The Patents Act 2013 passed into law on 13 September 2013. The new act is not yet in force, but will take effect by 13 September 2014 at the latest. This allows for the development of the Patents Regulations, which will set out the procedural detail for the new act.
The new act updates New Zealand patent law by introducing examination for obviousness, automatic publication at 18 months, and absolute novelty. Existing exclusions from patentability for methods of treatment, diagnosis, and surgery are codified. Notable changes include a broadened 'contrary to morality' objection provision, and a limitation on the patentability of computer software. How these changes will be applied in practice-and the impact of them-remains to be seen.
Patent applications made under the current act will generally continue to be dealt with under that act after the 2013 act commences. The new act will apply if a complete specification is filed after the act has commenced. Where a divisional application is filed out of a patent application dealt with under the old act, the divisional application will also be dealt with under the old act. PCT applications entering the New Zealand national phase before the new act commences will be dealt with under the old act. Where national phase entry is made after the new act commences, the application will be dealt with under the new act.