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Patent Law's 'Foreshore' To Go To Maori

Patent Law's 'Foreshore' To Go To Maori

The Labour Cabinet's proposed Maori veto over inventions `likely to be contrary to Maori values' is more sinister than this week's planned fudging of seabed and foreshore ownership, ACT New Zealand Associate Commerce Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"While Cabinet papers don't give full details, a similar scheme has just been passed in the new Trademarks Act. The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand will have to consider whether patent applications appear to be derived from indigenous plants or animals, or traditional knowledge," Mr Franks said.

"Current seabed claims assert property interests that could be compatible with genuine wealth creation. But a patent blocking power is destructive. If Maori representatives are stupid, they will block new technology they fear or don't fancy. But that is unlikely - the $250,000 a year Maori Advisory Committee is more likely to become a toll collector, blocking only enough high profile inventions to frighten everyone into `cultural sensitivity consultation' and negotiation fees to favoured cultural advisors.

"Entrepreneurs, impatient pioneers, determined scientists and inventors will get the message - if you can't be bothered with superstitious gibberish, go to a country that respects genuine knowledge, genuine intellectual property and inventiveness.

"The Maori veto in the Trademarks Act is simple racism - but damage can be avoided, at the cost of Maori culture, by just shunning symbols that look Maori.

"But the Patents Act contains serious stuff for a pretend `knowledge economy'. A cultural veto effectively concedes the infamous WAI 262 Waitangi Tribunal demand for Maori control of native plants and animals. It makes our patent law a joke.

"Intellectual property law is designed to reward research, invention and creation - not to scrape off rents for doing nothing. That is why copyrights, trademarks and patents all expire - so inventors have to keep making and finding new useful things.

"Tacking a race veto or taxing power onto an intellectual property law `reform' tells the world that New Zealand's claimed `knowledge economy' is just blather. Knowledge economies don't subject research, inventiveness, and hard work to a stone age technology veto," Mr Franks said.

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