New Zealand – Patents for Medical Treatment

The definition of what is patentable in New Zealand is still based on the old Statute of Monopolies definition of being a manner of new manufacture. Over the years, these requirements have come to be given a fairly broad meaning in many of the countries where it is or has been used. However, the New Zealand Court of Appeal in the case of re Pfizer Inc has now held that for New Zealand at least it is not broad enough to allow the grant of claims directly focused on medical treatments of humans.

The Court of Appeal has previously held that “Swiss form” claims directed to the production of a medicament for treatment of a particular disease are patentable and it seems that for the time being such claims will be the limit of what can be patented in New Zealand where one discovers a new use for a compound already known to be pharmaceutically active for some other purpose. A general revision of the patent law is currently under consideration in New Zealand and could result in a change in the situation. However, the current government has indicated that it does not favor a change in the law to make medical treatments patentable.

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