New Zealand Patents Bill – August 2013

New Zealand Patents Bill was finally passed by its Parliament on 28 August 2013.
The most important points are the following:
General points
Examination criteria will be extended to include absolute novelty and inventive step (currently, the criteria include local novelty and no inventive step – although inventive step is a ground for opposition/revocation!).
No extension of term for pharmaceuticals.
Computer programs
(1) A computer program is not an invention and not a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act.
(2) Subsection (1) prevents anything from being an invention or a manner of manufacture for the purposes of this Act only to the extent that a claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such.
(3) A claim in a patent or an application relates to a computer program as such if the actual contribution made by the alleged invention lies solely in it being a computer program.
Thus New Zealand has taken an approach which is similar to that in Europe.
Methods of medical treatment and diagnosis
Methods of medical treatment which were considered not patentable as being contrary to morality, are considered now in specific exclusions:
– An invention of a method of treatment of human beings by surgery or therapy is not a patentable invention.
– An invention of a method of diagnosis practised on human beings is not a patentable invention.
Again, these exclusions will be familiar to European practitioners.

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