Negotiations completed on NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement

On 30 June 2022, New Zealand and the European Union concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement (NZ-EU FTA, the Agreement).

The chapter on intellectual property will complement the rights and obligations the EU and New Zealand already have under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property (TRIPs) and other international intellectual property agreements.  While the full text of the Agreement has not yet been released publically, key outcomes relevant to intellectual property rights are discussed below.

Copyright

New Zealand is to extend the copyright term by 20 years for authors, performers and producers.  New Zealand is also to extend the protection to digital locks (technological protection measures) to include preventing a person undertaking an act to circumvent those locks other than in limited circumstances.   New Zealand will have four years from entry into force of the Agreement to implement these changes to the Copyright Act 1994.  

The intellectual property chapter will also require that, as was agreed in the UK FTA, New Zealand establishes an artist’s resale right regime that operates on a reciprocal basis with the EU’s corresponding regime.

Designs

New Zealand has agreed to make all reasonable efforts to accede to the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement).

This commitment mirrors the corresponding commitment given under the UK FTA.

Geographical Indications

New Zealand’s regime for the registration of wine and spirits geographical indications (GIs) will be extended to include geographical indications for agricultural products, foodstuffs and other types of beverages. New Zealand and the EU will each protect a list of the other’s geographical indications. The current EU list comprises 2,146 GIs.  The EU has agreed to protect twenty-three New Zealand wine GIs.

Once this extended GI regime is in place, only EU producers will be able to use the protected EU GIs on specified products imported and sold in New Zealand.  At this time, New Zealand producers will need to stop using terms like “sherry”, “port” and “feta” on their products.  Notably there is a carve out for continued use of ‘gruyere’ and ‘parmesan’ by existing users. 

These protections will be phased in over between 5 and 9 years.

Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation

The Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation Chapter acknowledges Te Tiriti / The Treaty of Waitangi as a foundational document of constitutional importance to Aotearoa New Zealand, and references Māori concepts including Te Ao Māori, Mātauranga Māori, Tikanga Māori, Kaupapa Māori, Tāonga and Wāhine Māori to achieve wellbeing. For New Zealand, the recognition of the Crown’s te Tiriti obligations has been a central consideration in the discussions.

The chapter includes a definition for Mānuka as the Māori word used exclusively for the Leptospermum scoparium tree grown in Aotearoa New Zealand, and derivative products such as honey and oil.  Mānuka is recognised as culturally important to Māori as a tāonga and traditional medicine.

In negotiating the agreement, New Zealand has made sure there is flexibility to respond to te Tiriti obligations such as those identified in Ko Aotearoa Tēnei: Report on the Wai 262 Claim.   The all of government response to the Wai 262 claim - Te Pae Tawhiti - includes a work programme focussed on the  protection of indigenous intellectual property and traditional knowledge which specifically will relate to geographical indications and plant variety rights.

What the Agreement does not cover

No changes appear to be necessary to either country’s patent or trade mark laws.  In particular New Zealand is not required to provide patent term extensions.

The parties have agreed to a two year period to ratify and bring into force the Agreement.

If you have any questions as to how the NZ-EU FTA affects you, please contact us.

Elena Szentiványi - 5 July 2022


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