The IPKat (well this one, at least) is always excited by news of a new Patents Act, and so he was jolly pleased to read in his Twitter feed that the New Zealand Patents Bill was finally passed by its Parliament yesterday, on 28 August 2013.
Much of the previous coverage (including on the IPKat here), and the chatter from yesterday, focused on the exclusion from patentability of software. The IPKat believes that what has been agreed is the following:
10A 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.
(4) The Commissioner or the court (as the case may be) must, inEuropean practitioners will see resonances in the "as such" language, and the IPKat is given to understand that the expectation is that the approach taken will be similar to that in the UK.
identifying the actual contribution made by the alleged invention,
consider the following:
(a) the substance of the claim (rather than its form and the
contribution alleged by the applicant) and the actual
contribution it makes:
(b) what problem or other issue is to be solved or addressed:
(c) how the relevant product or process solves or addresses
the problem or other issue:
(d) the advantages or benefits of solving or addressing the
problem or other issue in that manner:
(e) any other matters the Commissioner or the court thinks
(5) To avoid doubt, a patent must not be granted for anything that
is not an invention and not a manner of manufacture under this
Perusing the Bill, the IPKat was delighted, if astonished, to see that a patentable invention is still defined with reference to "a manner of manufacture within the meaning of section 6 of the Statute of Monopolies" (you know, this Statute of Monopolies - from 1623).
This Kat recalls that under the old (current) New Zealand law methods of medical treatment were considered not patentable as being contrary to morality, in the absence of any statutory exclusion, and is therefore not surprised to see that this position is regularised in specific exclusions:
An invention of a method of treatment of human beings by surgery or therapy is not a patentable invention.Again, these exclusions will be familiar to European practitioners.
An invention of a method of diagnosis practised on human beings is not a patentable invention.
Naturally, a number of New Zealand firms have blogged about this development - the IPKat has consulted posts from AJ Park and Henry Hughes. And of course the software angle has been extensively covered by Florian Mueller, who has helped to counter the popular (incorrect) reporting that software patents have been "banned" in New Zealand, whereas the reality is much more nuanced.
Merpel notes that New Zealand legislative process rivals European law-making for speed - this Bill apparently started in 2008!
UPDATE 30/8/13 Thanks to Twitter commenter @nzPaulM and comment from Ken Moon (9th comment) below, the IPKat has realised that the original blog post inadvertently omitted sub-sections (4) and (5) of Section10A. These have now been added above. The essential point that New Zealand is aligning its statute with the UK jurisprudence on patentability of software seems to apply equally to these sub-sections.
Not inadvertently, the IPKat omitted the "Examples" - to a process using a washing machine and a process for automatically completing a document - as they are rather lengthy and don't seem to be especially helpful to understanding the new law. You can read the whole proposal for Section 10A including all of this material in Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) No. 237 downloadable (together with other material relating to the Bill) from the New Zealand legislation website here.