New Zealand

Patents Act 2013

Year of Version:2013
Date of Text (Enacted):September 13, 2013
Type of Text:Main IP Laws: enacted by the Legislature
Subject Matter:Enforcement of IP and Related Laws, Genetic Resources, IP Regulatory Body, Patents (Inventions), Plant Variety Protection, Traditional Knowledge (TK), Undisclosed Information (Trade Secrets)
The notification by New Zealand to the WTO under article 63.2 of TRIPS states:
'The Act replaces the Patents Act 1953, which was modelled on the (now repealed) UK Patents Act 1949.
The standard of patent examination required by the Patents Act 1953 was less strict that that required by most other countries. This leads to patent rights being granted in New Zealand that may be broader in scope than rights granted for the same invention in other countries. This has the potential to disadvantage New Zealand businesses and consumers, as technology which may be freely available elsewhere could be covered by a patent in New Zealand. Since much innovation is incremental, building on what already exists, local innovators may be disadvantageous well.
The 2013 Act strengthens the criteria for granting a patent to ensure that patents are only granted for 'genuine innovations', that is, inventions that are a 'manner of manufacture' and that are novel, non-obvious and useful. Novelty and obviousness will be measured against all matter made available to the public anywhere in the world, by any means – an 'absolute novelty' standard. The standard under the Patents Act 1953 was 'local novelty' – only material published in New Zealand was taken into account when determining novelty or obviousness.
To be granted a patent under the Patents Act 1953 an invention must just be a manner of manufacture, and be novel. There was no examination for obviousness.
The 2013 Act contains explicit provisions setting out subject matter that is not eligible for patent protection:
- Methods of medical treatment, surgery and diagnosis practised on human beings (the New Zealand courts had previously ruled that such methods were not patentable under thePatents Act 1953);
- Human beings and biological processes for their generation;
- Inventions whose commercial exploitation would be contrary to morality or public order;
- Plant varieties;
- Computer programs 'as such'.
The 2013 Act also introduces simplified procedures that will reduce the cost and complexity involved in challenging 'bad' patents – that is patents that should not have been granted.
The 2013 Act also provides for the establishment of a Maori Advisory Committee to advise the Commissioner of Patents in relation to patent applications for inventions involving traditional knowledge or indigenous plants and animals. The Committee's function will be to provide advice that can be used by the Commissioner to assist in determining whether such inventions are novel, or involve an inventive step, or whether the commercial exploitation of such inventions would be offensive to Maori.'
Available Texts: 

Patents Act 2013 Patents Act 2013, Complete document (pdf) [1060 KB]

Related Legislation:
Related Treaties:
WIPO Lex No.:NZ137


New Zealand