Newsletter – July 2021

July 2021 Updates

  • Zone Patents
  • New Team Members
  • Plant Variety Rights Bill

Zone Patents

We are delighted to announce the launch of Zone Patents this month. As the latest arm to the Zone Group, it will provide a full range of patent services.
Our new Zone Patents website can be reached here.

New Team Members

We are pleased to welcome two new staff members this month.

Julie Ballance BSc (Hons), LLB is a Registered New Zealand and Australian Patent Attorney, Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, and Notary Public. Julie joins Zone Patents as the Managing Director and joins Zone Law as Special Counsel.

Paula Scoon also joins the team this month as Administrator / Receptionist. She will work alongside Julie in the Zone Patents team and provide administrative support in the Zone Law team.

Plant Variety Rights Bill

A new Plant Variety Rights Bill was introduced to Parliament and received its first reading on 19 May 2021. The Bill will replace the existing Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 (PVR Act) and takes into account New Zealand’s obligations under both Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relation to plant variety rights, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP.

A review of the existing PVR Act commenced in the early 2000s but was put on hold pending the release of the Waitangi Tribunal’s Ko Aotearoa Tēnei or Wai 262 report. The Wai 262 report was the result of a Waitangi Tribunal claim known as the “flora and fauna claim” and related to who is entitled to participate in decisions relating to Indigenous flora and fauna, Māori culture and the products of Māori culture.

One of the problems identified in the Wai 262 report was the fact that existing intellectual property laws allow for commercialisation and scientific research in respect of Indigenous plant species without seeking the input of tangata whenua. Wai 262 identified a requirement to provide a “reasonable degree” of protection for kaitiaki or guardianship relationships with Indigenous plant species or taonga species.

The review of the existing PVR Act was further delayed by negotiations relating to the CPTPP, a free trade agreement between New Zealand and 10 other Asia Pacific nations. As a result of the CPTPP, New Zealand must within three years align its plant variety rights legislation with the international agreement on plant variety rights (known as UPOV 91).

The Bill has now been referred to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee for consideration.