Monday, May 23, 2011

Trans-Tasman Regulatory Framework

First day back in the office for the weary traveller.  I find myself working with my colleague Corinne Blumsky preparing a submission on a proposal by the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) for a Single Trans-Tasman Regulatory Framework for Patent Attorneys.

Currently the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 permits patent attorneys qualified in either Australia or New Zealand to “waive in” to the other country.

The proposal will implement a single register rather than two.

The discussion paper addresses in considerable detail the practical issues that are presented in implementing a single framework.  What seems to be lacking is an explanation as to why a single framework is needed at all.

A J Park’s submission can be summarised as follows:

  • We already operate seamlessly between New Zealand and Australia.
  • We agree in principle with a single Governance Body responsible for education, registration and discipline of patent attorneys.
  • The proposal to require a tertiary qualification in a field of patentable subject matter is unlikely to affect our firm.
  • We agree with the implementation of continuing professional education (CPE).
  • We agree with the concept of a single code of conduct. Many of our patent attorneys are lawyers as well as patent attorneys.  The single code of conduct would need to be in alignment with and not inconsistent with the conduct of conduct required of us by the New Zealand Law Society.  This may have the effect of imposing a higher standard of conduct on Australian resident patent attorneys, many of whom are not lawyers.
  • We propose a separate qualification of Trade Mark Attorney in both countries.

MED intends to finalise its position on the proposal later this year.

I’m talking to a reporter from Managing Intellectual Property about this issue next week.  Should be interesting.

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