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New Zealand’s new patent law comes into effect

New Zealand’s new patent law gets rid of some outdated provisions, expand third party actions and addresses software patent issues

The new Patent Law, which passed last year and came into effect on Friday, replaced a law that was over 60 years old.

Given the age of the previous law, it is not surprising that the new law addresses several unique quirks. For example, New Zealand examiners previously examined applications for novelty but not obviousness, though third parties could challenge a patent on obviousness grounds. Under the new law, patent applications will be examined for obviousness.

Similarly, under the new law, New Zealand also finally has a worldwide novelty requirement. Under the old law, novelty was only examined as to whether the invention was disclosed in New Zealand.

The law also looks to make it easier for third parties to challenge patents both pre- and post-grant. Furthermore, patent applications will automatically be published 18 months after the earliest priority date, making it easier for third parties to submit relevant prior art.

The new law also excludes from patentability computer programs “as such”, though it is expected that the presence of a technical effect will allow inventions to get around this “as such” exclusion.

For more on the new law, see our previous coverage.

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