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Patent protection costs in New Zealand

How Much Does Patent Protection Cost in New Zealand?

Published on 22 May 2019

The New Zealand economy is on a roll, having retained its position at the top of the Ease of Doing Business rankings in 2018, in addition to garnering record inflows of Foreign Direct Investment. In this article, we shall delve into the costs of protecting inventions and innovations (i.e., the costs of patent protection) in New Zealand, which is a regional hub for innovation in the Asia Pacific.

The New Zealand Economy

With a size about the same as that of the U.S. state of Oregon, the New Zealand economy underwent a radical transformation in the early 1970's, when it began transitioning from an economy driven by manufacturing to one that is driven primarily by services. The finance, insurance, and business services sectors have been the biggest beneficiaries of this transition. The contribution of these sectors to the Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") doubled in the period between 1972 and 2009, and stood at about 29% in 2009. As per the World Bank, New Zealand had a GDP of $205.85 billion in 2017.

Patent Legislation in New Zealand

The largest reform to New Zealand patent legislation in 60 years occurred with the entering into force of the Patents Act 2013 on September 13, 2014. The Act, which signaled the dawn of a new era, replaced the Patents Act 1953 and contained a number of significant changes to New Zealand patent practice. These include the introduction of a five-year deadline for the filing of divisional patent applications and the introduction of an official fee for the filing of a request for examination. Further, the bar for patentability was raised from just local novelty to the triple criteria of absolute novelty, inventive step, and utility, thereby bringing the legislation in line with international standards.

The Act also mandated changes in the payment of patent maintenance fees. Under the Patents Act 1953, patent maintenance fees were due only on the fourth, seventh, tenth, and thirteenth anniversaries of the filing date of the complete specification, with accumulated patent maintenance fees being payable at the time of grant. On the other hand, the Patents Act 2013 mandates the annual payment of patent maintenance fees and patent renewal fees for patent applications and granted patents respectively. The fees are payable in advance starting from the fourth anniversary of the filing date of the complete specification for the fifth year.

The New Zealand Intellectual Property Office, headquartered in the capital city of Wellington, is the statutory body that oversees the administration of the Patent Act and the implementing regulations (Patents Regulations 2014).

Patent System in New Zealand

Patent protection in New Zealand can only be obtained through a patent application filed in New Zealand. The application may be filed directly in New Zealand or through the relevant WIPO-administered treaties: the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Further, New Zealand is also involved in the Global Patent Prosecution Highway pilot. The pilot was launched on 6 January 2014, and currently involves 25 patent offices from across the globe. It allows "patent applicants to request accelerated examination at any of the offices involved in the pilot if their claims have been found to be acceptable by any of the other offices involved in the pilot."

Patent Filings in New Zealand

In the year 2017, the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office received about 6,000 patent applications. This figure is based on the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018 report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Patent Protection Costs in New Zealand

Let us now study the costs involved in obtaining and maintaining a patent in New Zealand (estimated based on the Official Fee Schedule as of December 27, 2018). Since a patent is typically maintained for at least six to ten years, we shall consider the costs from December 2018 through December 2028. There are two categories of costs involved: official fees and attorney charges.

For the purposes of this article, we shall consider a patent specification drafted in English and having a single priority claim, which is to be filed in New Zealand.

For the above scenario, the total costs to file a patent application, get the patent issued, and renew the patent are approximately US$6,500. As shown in Table 1, the estimated costs are spread across the five different stages of the patenting process: Filing, Examination, Prosecution, Grant, and Maintenance Fees/Renewal Fees/Annuities.

Patent Protection Costs in New Zealand
Official Patent Filing Fee

For the above scenario, the approximate official fee to be paid at the time of filing the patent application is $168. A fairly straightforward fee structure has been adopted by the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office, with no official fees being payable towards excess claims or excess pages at the time of filing.

Official Patent Examination Fee

The patent system in New Zealand follows a deferred system of patent examination. A request for substantive examination is to be filed within five years from the date of filing of the complete specification or within two months from the date on which the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office issues a direction to pay this fee. The approximate official fee for filing this request is $336. As is the case with filing, this fee is not dependent on the total number of independent claims or the total number of claims.

Patent Prosecution Costs and Patent Grant Costs

The estimated patent prosecution costs are based on the issuance of more than one office action with substantive objections. These costs are inclusive of the attorney charges for reporting each office action, preparing a response to each office action, and processing the response to each office action.

There is no official patent grant fee or patent issue fee.

Patent Renewal Fees

For a patent that will be granted or issued in 2020, the approximate official patent renewal fees for renewing the patent through December 2028 are $536.

Proposed Changes to Official Patent Fees

In order to ensure that "that revenue levels are closer to the overall cost of patent services", the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office has proposed significant increases to the official patent fees, which are likely to come into effect after May 2019. The changes envisaged for patent specifications filed under the Patents Act 2013 include a 50% increase in the fee for filing a request for substantive examination and the introduction of a new fee of approximately $135 for requesting the examination of each set of 10 claims in a patent specification in excess of 30 claims.

Further, the annual patent renewal fees to be paid for the fifth year through the tenth year are set to double, while those to be paid for the subsequent five years and the last five years are set to increase by about 2.25 times and about 2.85 times respectively.

For patent specifications filed under the Patents Act 1953, the changes envisaged include a doubling of the fee for filing a complete specification, an increase in the patent renewal fee to be paid at the fourth anniversary by about 3.5 times, and an increase in the patent renewal fee to be paid at the seventh anniversary by about 1.75 times. Further, the patent renewal fees to be paid at the tenth anniversary and the thirteenth anniversary are also set to increase by 2.5 times and 5.9 times respectively.

Patent Portfolio Software

Worried about keeping pace with the dynamic patent costs landscape? The Global IP Estimator and the Portfolio Estimator – Patents are smart, robust, and state-of-the-art international Patent cost calculators from the stables of Quantify IP, which greatly simplify the arduous and challenging task of Intellectual Property budgeting management. They offer what traditional Intellectual Property docketing software and patent and trademark management software do not - they can instantly and accurately calculate the costs of worldwide protection for either a single patent, trademark, design, or utility model, or a portfolio of patents, designs, or utility models, respectively. The calculations may be fine-tuned to the level of any particular stage of an Intellectual Property across its lifecycle.

The experts at Quantify IP continuously revise the robust database to reflect the most current official Government fees and currency exchange rates for each country. Therefore, as soon as the official fee changes are effective in New Zealand, the corresponding changes will be implemented in the patent cost calculators through an update.

The addition of Quantify IP's Patent Cost Calculators has empowered the decision-makers in many Fortune 500 companies and over 70% of the top 100 IP law firms in the U.S. to solve diverse challenges in managing Intellectual Property budgets. To see what we can do for you, email us at qipcontact@quantifyip.com or call us at +1-808-891-0099.

Venkatesh Viswanath (Senior Content Strategist, Quantify IP) contributed to this article.
Exchange Rate Used: 1 U.S. Dollar = 1.49 New Zealand Dollars
Note: The estimates and fees depicted in this article are based on the Official Fee Schedule as of December 27, 2018

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