Harmonisation – but to what extent?

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 at 10:37 am

In some respects, trade mark practice in New Zealand and Australia is developing without regard to the issue of harmonisation (more on this at a later date) however, notwithstanding differences in law, practice, policy and outcomes to date, the New Zealand and Australian governments are set on a path of harmonisation of examination outcomes for the same trade marks in New Zealand and Australia.

The impetus for these changes spring from a joint statement by Prime Minsters Rudd (Australia) and Key (New Zealand) in August 2009. In particular, it is intended that persons in Australia or New Zealand should not have to engage in the same process or provide the same information twice and that measures should deliver substantively the same regulatory outcomes in both countries in the most efficient manner. In relation to Intellectual Property – this opens up the possibility of not just harmonisation of examination outcomes but also a joint Register in the future. The joint statement notes that the options “need not necessarily involve harmonisation of law or the creation of joint institutions but may take other pragmatic approaches”. However, it would appear that IPAustralia is already considering the possibility of a future single trade mark register and a single plant variety right / plant breeder right application process and the PSB is already considering the possibility of a single registration process for, and regulation of, patent and trade mark attorneys in Australia and New Zealand.

The Prime Ministers’ full joint statement and the respective office’s December announcements from IPONZ and from IPAustralia as to the implementation of the this stage of the harmonisation project have been published. It will be interesting to see the outcomes for this project in due course.


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