The New Zealand Patents Act 2013 will come into force on 13 September 2014. The aim of the new law is to harmonise New Zealand's patent law with that of its various major trading partners. Under the new Act, applications filed from 13 September 2014, including PCT national phase applications, will need to satisfy far more stringent requirements if they are to meet the patentability obligations of the new law. The most important changes are as follows:

- Prior art will be deemed to include documents published anywhere in the world;
- The specification will need to be written in such a way that anyone skilled in the art can reproduce the invention;
- A formal request for examination will need to be filed within a given timeframe;
- The process of examination has been widened to include absolute novelty and inventive step;
- Applicants will have a 12 month period from the date of the first examination report within which to place an application in order for acceptance;
- Computer programs as such, inventions contrary to public order or morality, methods of treatment and diagnosis of human beings, and plant varieties are all excluded from patentability;
- New experimental use exceptions will exist in relation to infringement matters;
- Changes to opposition proceedings and third party observations will be introduced.

Renewal fees
The new Act changes the way in which renewal fee payments will fall due. Under the current Act, renewal fees are payable on the 4th, 7th, 10th and 13th anniversaries of the filing date. Under the new Act, renewal fees will be payable annually, commencing on the 4th anniversary of the filing date, and will be payable on both granted and pending cases. It will not be possible to pay renewal fees earlier than 3 months from the due date, and the cost of renewal fees will also rise. 

Pending cases and patents already granted prior to the 13 September 2014 will retain their next renewal date. Once the payment of this fee is made, renewal fees will need to be paid on an annual basis.

Transitional provisions
Any cases pending on the 13 September 2014 will continue to be governed under the less onerous and less costly provisions of the current Act, except in respect of renewal fee payments (see above). A divisional application deriving from a parent filed under the current Act will also be governed by that Act. 

In view of the above we recommended that applicants file their patent applications prior to the commencement of the new Act, i.e. before 13 September 2014.