The New Zealand Institute
of Patent Attorneys, Inc
How to become a patent attorney
20 March 2017 UPDATE:
New Zealand Patent Attorney examinations for all papers will be held in July 2017 for those candidates wishing to rely on the transitional provisions under the joint patent attorney regime to apply for registration as a trans-Tasman Patent Attorney (see below). Candidates who sat D or E, or both, in February 2017 are eligible to sit those papers again in July 2017 if necessary.
Enrolments for the NZIPA July 2017 exams are open from 21 March 2017 to 12 April 2017 at IPONZ. The timetable for the July 2017 exams can be viewed here.
New Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney regime
In March 2013 Australia and New Zealand signed a Bilateral Arrangement for implementing the Trans-Tasman patent attorney regime (“the joint registration regime”). The joint registration regime will provide a single system of accreditation, registration and professional regulation of patent attorneys in both countries.
Information setting out the background and purpose of the joint registration regime, and the bilateral agreement, can be found on the MBIE website.
The Patents (Trans-Tasman Patent Attorneys and Other Matters) Amendment Act came into force on 24 February 2017, and amended the Patents Act 2013.
Students who have already passed one paper
Transitional provisions for persons who have already passed a New Zealand Patent Attorney exam paper (refer Part IX of the Bilateral Agreement on MBIE website)
Any person who has passed at least one New Zealand exam paper under the old regime may, when the new joint registration regime takes effect, continue sitting the New Zealand exams for a further 4 years from that date (2017-2020). If all New Zealand exam papers are passed in this time, they will be considered as meeting all the knowledge requirements under the new joint registration regime.
Any person who passes all of the New Zealand exam papers during the 4 year transition period will still need to apply for registration under the joint registration regime, but will be exempt from needing to hold a tertiary qualification in an area of patentable subject matter. They will still need to meet all other criteria for registration as a Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney. This includes having at least two years patents-related work experience, and providing a statement of skill. These candidates must apply for registration to the Designated Manager within six months of receiving written notification that all relevant papers have been passed. Further details can be found on the website of the Trans-Tasman IP Attorney Board.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Commissioner will not allow any person to sit New Zealand Patent Attorney exams in 2017 unless they have already passed at least one exam paper at the end of 2016.
Students who have not passed any papers
Any person who has not passed any NZ patent attorney examinations by the end of 2016 will be unable to enrol in any future New Zealand patent attorney examinations. They can only become registered as a Trans-Tasman patent attorney by completing the requirements for registration under the new Trans-Tasman patent attorney regime.
Full information on the new Trans-Tasman patent attorney regime, and the procedure and requirements for registration under it, may be obtained on the website of the Trans-Tasman IP Attorney Board. This website provides all necessary information about accredited courses of study for qualification as a Trans-Tasman patent attorney.
Victoria University of Wellington has Trans-Tasman IP Attorney Board accreditation to offer two courses of study in 2017; Topic Group A2 – Overview of IP (LAWS 551), and Topic Group C – Trade Mark Law (LAWS 536). Details of those courses are available here.
Students can meet the knowledge requirements by passing papers at more than one university. It is the mastery of the knowledge of IP law and practice that is important – not a particular university degree or diploma.
Exemptions for Topic Group B (Professional Conduct) are available to students holding a New Zealand Law Society Practising Certificate, and students who have been admitted to practice law in New Zealand in the 7 years prior to their application.
- Registration as a patent attorney requires substantial periods of practical experience under the supervision of a registered patent attorney.
- To register as a Trans-Tasman patent attorney, a candidate also needs a tertiary qualification in an area of patentable subject matter.
New Zealand law does not have any provision for registration of trade mark attorneys and we currently believe that there are no plans for our government to provide for them at present.