United Kingdom, New Zealand Free Trade Agreement agreed ‘in principle’


On 21 October 2021 it was announced that New Zealand and United Kingdom have come to an agreement in principle on the key elements of a free trade deal.  While the actual text will be finalised in the coming months, the agreement does set out some commitments, including in relation to intellectual property.

  • New Zealand extending the copyright term by 20 years for authors, performers and producers, to be implemented within 15 years of entry into force of the agreement;
  • A commitment to maintain, or in New Zealand’s case adopt an artist’s resale right scheme within two years of entry into force of the FTA;
  • Commitments to adopt or maintain a public performance right for performers to cover communication to the public of phonograms.
  • A commitment from New Zealand to make all reasonable efforts to join the Hague Agreement on Industrial Designs.

A full copy of the agreement in principle can be found here.

Commitments in the intellectual property field include:

Of significance, particularly for Māori, the IP chapter will include provisions that will recognise the relevance of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources to IP systems, provide for the consideration of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources during patent examination.  It will also contain commitments for both countries to work together on these issues at the WIPO InterGovernmental Committee (WIPO IGC). 

Relatedly, the countries have committed to develop an indigenous trade chapter which, as well as recognising the value of Māori leadership and economy, Mātauranga Māori and the Te Ao Māori world view and promoting Māori participation in the agreement, includes a commitment from the UK to identify ways to advance recognition and protection of the Haka Ka Mate (the haka routinely performed by the NZ All Blacks rugby team at the beginning of an international match). 

There is no commitment for New Zealand to extend its current geographical indication regime (currently limited to wines and spirits) to other goods.  However, if New Zealand does make such an extension (which is likely to be required under the EU FTA still being negotiated), the agreement will be reviewed to ensure that any protection is also afforded to UK geographical indications, and equivalent protection will be afforded to New Zealand GIs.  If no changes are made within two years, this will be reviewed.

There is also no commitment for New Zealand to introduce any patent term extension, and indeed there is a commitment that the FTA will not affect the cost of medicine in either country. 

David Nowak - October 2021

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