In the past, New Zealand has trumped Australia in relation to a range of important policy issues including: votes for women; native title rights for indigenous people; environmental laws and renewable energy; and marriage equality. Now New Zealand appears to be leading Australia again, this time in relation to innovation policy.
As reported by Shelston IP last week, New Zealand National MP, Parmjeet Parmar, has introduced a private members' Bill directed to a second-tier patent system: the "advancement patent", similar to Australia's innovation patent system. Significantly, and in contrast to New Zealand's pro-innovation approach, the abolition of Australia's innovation patent system remains on the agenda despite a recent reprieve. Thus, it appears that Australia and New Zealand are heading in diametrically opposite directions in terms of their innovation policies
Ms Parmar, made it clear that "the Patents (Advancement Patents) Amendment Bill will introduce a more accessible and cost-effective second-tier patent system that will protect novel creations that don't qualify for the standard patent". She went on to say that a second-tier patent system will "provide forward-thinking people with the opportunity to commercialise their creation whilst continuing the vital research and development component of our economy".
In my role as council member of the Institute of Patent and Trademark attorneys of Australia (IPTA), I have coordinated discussions between IP Australia, Government Ministers, the Opposition, cross-bench Senators and innovators from Australian small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) in a bid to save Australia's innovation patent system. Relevantly, the reasons put forward by Ms Parmar for introducing a second-tier patent system in New Zealand wholly align with the comments made by concerned Australian SMEs in their support for the Australian innovation patent system.
Given the work that has been carried out to better align the Australian and New Zealand patent systems, the proposed introduction of a second-tier patent system in New Zealand will provide further compelling reasons for Australia to retain the innovation patent system.
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