New Zealand Commerce Minister Craig Foss announced today Government approval to implement a single application and examination process for New Zealand and Australian patent applications.
Two separate and independent patents will ultimately be granted and IPONZ and IP Australia will each retain their existing responsibilities for granting or refusing the patents, but the processes will be shared.
“Single patent application and examination processes will enable the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) and IP Australia to share resources, reduce duplication and cut administrative costs to improve patent examination outcomes,” Foss says.
Around 5700 applications filed with IPONZ are also the subject of a corresponding application in Australia, he says. Forty per cent of applicants also nominate the same patent attorney for both applications.
“Using an online portal hosted on the IPONZ and IP Australia websites, applicants will be able to apply for patent protection simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand, while a single examiner will assess both applications according to the respective laws," he says.
The joint processes will mean businesses can reduce compliance costs by employing a single patent attorney to manage both applications.
Last month, New Zealand passed a new Patents Bill that effectively outlawed software patents except in embedded systems.
Foss welcomed the modernisation of the patents law, saying it marked a "significant step towards driving innovation in New Zealand".