New Zealand's Year of the Intellectual Property Right

Intellectual property in New Zealand is often low on the legislative priority. However, 2016 and the beginning of 2017 has seen an extraordinarily large number of intellectual property bills and orders passed.

The Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2016, which provided for a single register and regulation for all Australian and New Zealand Patent Attorneys (as discussed in our previous article), was not the only recent legislative change for intellectual property in New Zealand.

Further recent enactments having an effect on intellectual property rights in New Zealand included:

Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Amendment Act 2016

Geographical Indications are a sign used on products that originate from a particular geographical location which possess a quality, reputation or other characteristic linked to that location. The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Amendment Act was passed in 2006 but has languished in obscurity since.

This Amendment Act finally provides the mechanisms for a Geographical Indications regime, albeit limited to wines and spirits, to be brought into effect in New Zealand.

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand will administer the regime which is expected to come into force once the Regulations commence later in 2017.

Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Amendment Act 2016

The Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997 provides for the regulation and registration for use in New Zealand of agricultural and veterinary medicine products. It is an offence under the Act to sell or use any agricultural compound or veterinary medicine which is not registered.

Part of the registration process requires the provision of data relating to the safety and efficacy of the product by the Applicant to the Ministry of Primary Industries. Under the Act confidential information provided in relation to the product must be protected for a period of time. This is also known as data protection.

The Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Amendment Act 2016 provides for increased data protection of confidential information submitted with an application for registration for up to 10 years. The length of protection is dependent on the nature of the product and the category of registration sought, but provides an extension in some instances from the maximum 5 years data protection prior to the amendment.

Copyright (application to Other Countries) Amendment Order 2016

This order put in place an overdue update to the Schedule which lists the prescribed countries whose authors’ works can qualify for copyright protection in New Zealand.

Some notable inclusions following the amendment include the European Union, Netherlands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Act 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is unlikely to come into force due to the withdrawal of the United States of America from the Agreement.  Nevertheless, the New Zealand government pushed forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Act 2016.

This Act was an omnibus bill to amend New Zealand law as part of the implementation of this multilateral trade agreement. It includes a number of notable changes to the Copyright Act 1994, Patents Act 2013 and Trade Marks Act 2002 which would have come into effect had the TPPA been ratified by the required countries and come into force.

Changes to duration of copyright term, performers’ rights, border protection, technological protection measures, patent term extensions and patent grace periods were some of the notable changes included in the Act.

While the TPPA remains unratified by the United States, these changes will not come into force. However, their passage into legislation indicates Government willingness to make such or similar changes as a part of future trade negotiations. We will keep you advised of any future changes to New Zealand’s intellectual property legislation.

If you have any questions about the applicability of implications of any of the above to your business, please contact us.

Jesse Strafford - April 2017

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