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Patents And Plant Variety Rights Discussion Papers

3 April 2002

Release Of Patents And Plant Variety Rights Discussion Papers

Associate Commerce Minister Laila Harré and Commerce Minister Paul Swain today announced the release of two discussion documents drafted by the Ministry of Economic Development on patent and plant variety rights issues.

“Improving New Zealand’s intellectual property framework is an important component of the government’s innovation strategy and will help to ensure that New Zealand receives full value for our innovations”, Ministers Harré and Swain said.

“Modern and effective patent and plant variety rights systems provide an incentive for innovation and help fulfil the government’s goal of promoting an inclusive, innovative economy for the benefit of all.”

The discussion paper “Boundaries to Patentability” looks at how the Patents Act 1953 might be changed to take account of social and technological changes that have arisen since the act was passed. Issues discussed include the Act’s definition of invention, the patentability of computer software and business methods, and of methods of medical treatment of humans.

The paper also considers the ethical and cultural concerns regarding the granting of patents over living organisms, inventions involving genetic modification and Maori traditional knowledge.

The second discussion paper, “Review of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987”, reviews the rights given to plant breeders under this Act and considers whether changes to the existing regime might be required to take account of changes in plant breeding techniques, and in international standards for plant variety right protection.

Other issues considered in this paper include concerns over possible adverse effects of the grant of plant variety rights on such matters as the right of farmers to sow their saved seed without payment of a royalty, biodiversity and food security, and concerns expressed by Maori about the granting of plant variety rights over indigenous plant varieties.

“The release of the discussion papers represents the first step in public consultations that will be undertaken with stakeholders.

“We would welcome submissions from inventors, researchers, plant breeders, farmers, other users of patented products and protected plant varieties, and members of the public on the matters discussed in these documents.” the Ministers said.

Submissions will be considered in the development of policy recommendations to the Government on possible legislative reform.

The closing date for submissions on both discussion papers is Friday 26 July 2002


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