We need to put the Trans- Tasman Pacific Partnership into perspective. It’s hard to comment on the specifics of a process that is not subject to public scrutiny. Intellectual property is just one chapter in an agreement intended to deliver benefits to all parties.
In many cases, it involves balancing the practical needs of IP rights holders against the philosophies of academics and civil libertarians. We have to ask which group is actually creating economic value here.
We should not be scared of free trade agreements. Has Australia’s free trade agreement with the US harmed its economy? It’s difficult to hold this view when many of us are looking wistfully across the Tasman, wondering how we can catch up. Our own agreement with China has delivered greater access to this market for our dairy products. There’s also a suggestion that some Australian companies are now setting up subsidiary businesses in New Zealand to take advantage of our better market access in China.
Should we strengthen our intellectual property laws? Absolutely. Our current Patents Act, for example, has been in force since 1953. The patent law reform process started here over 20 years ago, long before the TPP. There is nothing wrong with bringing our intellectual property regime up to a benchmark standard. We should be doing this anyway.
Matt Adams is a partner in intellectual property law firm A J Park, and an elected council member of the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys