New Zealand Patents Bill gets first reading in Parliament

The Bill to replace the Patents Act 1953 (NZ) has finally received its first reading in Parliament.  Copies of the draft Bill, the explanatory memorandum, and the first reading speeches are available at

Although the Bill was introduced into Parliament on 9 July 2008, it was preceded by a much earlier exposure draft, and before that by a prolonged, even interminable period of public consultation.  In May 2006, the writer had noted that “One would therefore need to exercise a fair degree of optimism to assume that we will see a Patents Act 2006” (Jacob Grainer, “Looking to the future: ongoing intellectual property reform in New Zealand” (2006) 4 NZIPJ 177).  In hindsight, it is obvious that any such optimism was not merited, and hence this latest development is especially welcome.

The Bill will make a number of important changes to New Zealand patent law, including changes to the standards of novelty (currently limited to local novelty, and determined with respect to what is known or used in New Zealand only) and to the standards of inventiveness and usefulness required for the granting of a patent. The Bill will also introduce changes to the regime for the registration of patent attorneys in New Zealand.

Public submissions on the Bill are due to the Commerce Committee by 2 July 2009, with the Committee due to report back on the Bill, and on the submissions it receives, by 5 November 2009.   Information on how to make submissions is available at

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