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New Patent Law in New Zealand

New Zealand has approved Patents Act 2013, which is expected to come into force in 2014. Many of the changes are similar to those made recently in Australia and there is an intention to streamline patent procedures across both jurisdictions. The main changes to be implemented are as follows:

• The local novelty requirement is to be replaced by absolute novelty

• Examination will include a consideration of both inventive step and utility

• Prior-filed, post-published NZ patent applications will form part of the state of the art for assessment of novelty

• The “benefit of the doubt” test for patentability will be replaced with a “balance of probabilities” test

• Computer programs as such and human beings, biological processes for their generation, methods of diagnosis and treatment practised on human beings and plant varieties will be excluded from patentability

• Requirements for sufficiency and support and re-examination will be introduced

• Maintenance fees will be required prior to acceptance to keep an application pending

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