First stage of joint comparative examination project complete

New Zealand

The first stage of the comparative trademark examination project between the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) and IP Australia is now complete. The project is part of the memorandum of understanding signed by the governments of the two countries in 2000 to coordinate business law.

New Zealand and Australia's close trading relationship was recognized as early as 1983 when the two countries entered into a set of trade and economic arrangements known as the Closer Economic Relations. It is also recognized in legislation in both countries which allows people to practice in equivalent professions without having to re-qualify.

Despite the close relationship, New Zealand did not follow Australia when it introduced a new Trademarks Act. Instead, it largely replicated the Singapore Trademarks Act 1998, which was based on the UK Trademarks Act 1994. As a consequence, New Zealand trademark law has traditionally drawn on English, not Australian, precedent and practice.

The comparative examination project aims to examine concurrently 300 trademark applications, where the same application is filed simultaneously in New Zealand and in Australia. IPONZ and IP Australia will discuss examination issues before issuing reports or accepting applications with the aim of aligning results where possible.

The hope is that trademark applicants will see improved consistency and predictability of examination outcomes when seeking trademark protection in both New Zealand and Australia.

Kate Duckworth, Baldwins, Wellington

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