Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our relationship with India

Early last year our New Zealand Trade Minister and his counterpart in India announced the start of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.  New Zealand's exports to India were valued at NZ$630 (US$542) million in 2009.  The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee initiated an inquiry to consider the relationship.  The New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys (NZIPA) filed submissions for consideration.

The inquiry

The terms of reference for the enquiry are to:

  • Consider trade, tourism, and opportunities including investment
  • Examine strategic opportunities for both New Zealand and India resulting from new opportunities for engagement particularly flowing from technological innovation
  • Determine any untapped opportunities for growing the relationship in the areas of science, medicine, defence, education, and culture.

NZIPA submission

The NZIPA represents almost all registered patent attorneys who are resident in New Zealand.  Our members regularly advise New Zealand business on intellectual property rights available in New Zealand and in New Zealand’s major trading partners, including India.

From an intellectual property perspective the relationship with India disadvantages New Zealanders.  We suggest addressing at least one issue to put the two countries on a more balanced footing and thereby encourage trade between the two countries.

Patent attorney-client privilege

Clients of registered patent attorneys in New Zealand enjoy privilege in the advice they receive from that patent attorney.  This privilege is extended to clients of registered patent attorneys (or equivalent profession) in India.

That same privilege is not extended by India to clients of registered patent attorneys in New Zealand.

This means that an Indian company will receive advice from an Indian patent attorney that is privileged in New Zealand.  However, a New Zealand company will receive advice from a New Zealand patent attorney that will not be privileged in India.

We think India should be encouraged to reciprocate the privilege New Zealand law affords overseas practitioners and their clients.

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