New Zealand revamps IP regime

Wednesday 23rd April 2008

What’s happening with New Zealand’s latest IP legislation and draft bills under consideration.

New Zealand for the most part has rather antiquated intellectual property legislation. The Trade Marks Act was in force for nearly 50 years before being replaced in 2002 and the Patents Act has been in force for more than 50 years. In a flurry of activity, two IP-related pieces of legislation were passed in late 2006 and there are several other draft bills being considered.

The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 was introduced in late 2006 as well as the Evidence Act 2006, which broadened the scope of registered patent attorney privilege.

A Patents Bill and a Plant Variety Rights Bill have been drafted and both should be introduced into Parliament in early 2007.

The Copyright Digital Amendment Bill, which covers issues such as technological protection measures and format shifting, is likely to be passed some time in 2007. The government is also considering amendments to the commissioning rule.

The government has indicated it will introduce a Major Events Management Bill to combat ambush marketing in relation to sports events and concerts. Again, it is likely to be passed some time in 2007.

Despite only passing a new Trade Marks Act in 2002, the government has also indicated that it intends to accede to the Madrid Protocol and the Nice Agreement. It also recently signed the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trade Marks. All of these changes will require amendments to the Trade Marks Act.

Intellectual property legislation has typically been a low priority for the New Zealand government and the indicated timeframes will not necessarily be met. There will be an election in New Zealand in 2008 and if the bulk of the legislation is not introduced in 2007 then it is unlikely to make any real progress in 2008.

This article was published in Managing Intellectual Property, February 2007.

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