Back in February, the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand issued a statement about harmonising IP laws (and procedures) between their countries.
Today, the Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science and the New Zealand Commerce Minister issued a further statement “revealing” that:
- there will be a single application process for seeking patents in both countries from 2013; and
- a single examination of the application for both countries will be introduced from 2014.
The two countries’ patent laws will continue to be different but, when these steps are introduced, there will be an integrated application and examination process to get a patent in both countries.
According to the Australian Minister:
The savings in professional costs alone could be as high as $2,000 to $5,000 per invention — money that should and will stay in the pocket of the innovator.
Not entirely clear from the information released officially how things have progressed since February. Press Release here
; Fact Sheet there
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?
See also here and here.