Trans Tasman IP harmonising – patents
Prime Ministers Gillard (Australia) and Key (EnZed) have reaffirmed their countries’ respective commitment to closer co-operation in (industrial) IP matters between the two countries as part of the Trans Tasman Single Economic Market.
Apparently, over the next 5 years our countries will work towards:
- one regulatory framework for patent attorneys;
- one trade mark regime;
- one application process for patents in both jurisdictions; and
- one plant variety right regime.
According to the Statement issued on 16 February, the single application process for patents in both jurisdications will involve 2 stages. In the first stage, “both countries will rely on each other’s work, where possible, to build confidence and simplify processes”. In the second stage, there will be a “single examination process”.
Apparently, this will not involve changing either country’s patent laws as the Statement explains:
Examiners will grant or refuse applications under each country’s law. It will not be necessary for our laws to be identical.
Australia and New Zealand will operate as one integrated patent examination entity in practice – not in law. Both countries will retain flexibility to implement legislation and policies.
All this is forecast to take 3 years.
In contrast, streams 2 and 4 envisage one (trade mark or plant breeder’s) regime. That seems to indicate than one or other of our respective trade mark or plant breeder’s laws will need to change because (so far as I understand it – not very far at all, really) EnZed trade mark law is much closer to “modern” (ie. 1994) UK legislation and hence EU rules. Is it too soon to start boning up on ECJ rulings?