Disclosure of origin requirements in the patents regime
We consulted on possible options to introduce a disclosure of origin requirement in the patents regime.
Patent disclosure of origin requirements require applicants to disclose the origin of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge used in their inventions.
The Waitangi Tribunal recommended in the Wai 262 report(external link) to implement a disclosure of origin requirement in New Zealand’s patents regime.
Introducing a disclosure of origin requirement to the New Zealand patents regime
Acknowledging the recommendations in the Wai 262 report, the Government has been considering options for a domestic patent disclosure of origin requirement.
Requiring patent applicants to disclose the origin of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge may:
- help ensure relevant applications are referred to the Patents Māori Advisory Committee, which assesses whether the commercial exploitation of an invention may be contrary to Māori values
- improve transparency in the patents regime so that interested groups, including Māori, the public and government can find out information about the use of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge in inventions.
We commissioned Castalia to produce an economic evaluation of three potential options for a patent disclosure of origin requirement.
About the consultation
A discussion document on possible options to introduce a disclosure of origin requirement to the New Zealand patents regime was released for consultation over September-December 2018.
We held a workshop in Wellington in November 2018 to discuss patent disclosure of origin requirements.
We also held regional hui with Māori during the consultation period to discuss both the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 review issues paper and the patent disclosure of origin discussion document.
While the feedback we received supported the introduction of a patent disclosure of origin requirement, there was also a strong preference that it be progressed in the context of work to develop a comprehensive bioprospecting policy.
Introducing an international disclosure of origin requirement is also being discussed in international forums, like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC).
There is a growing consensus for a proposal to implement an international patents disclosure of origin requirement. This would require patent applicants to disclose the origin of any genetic resources and traditional knowledge used in their claimed inventions.
New Zealand has been an active contributor to the negotiations at IGC since its inception in 2000. New Zealand is perceived to be a leader in this area, due to initiatives like our Māori advisory committees in the trade marks and patents regimes.
While New Zealand has not participated at the IGC between 2017 and 2019 (in order to prioritise our domestic policy development on mātauranga Māori issues) we have continued to work with the Chair of the IGC in the development of a draft text to form the basis of a proposed treaty.
Policy development on a domestic disclosure of origin requirement will be included in the targeted engagement for kete 2. We acknowledge the importance of taking a coordinated and holistic approach on this issue and will continue to work with other agencies to achieve this.
Acknowledging the overall support for a patent disclosure of origin requirement in New Zealand, we have resumed our engagement in the negotiations at the IGC.