Customs will be given new powers to hold goods at the border that they suspect breach copyright or trade marks under the Trans Pacific Partnership.

And those who find themselves on trade mark infringement charges could pay more, with New Zealand courts to be given new discretion to award additional damages.

Those penalties would come on top of the compensatory damages already provided for under New Zealand law for trade mark infringement.

TPP will also require a new 'patent linkage' system to be established, where a pharmaceutical patent holder would be notified if a generic version of their product is submitted to Medsafe for regulatory approval.


New details on the TPP were released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) today in the form of fact sheets, including one on intellectual property.

Customs will need to be given new powers that would allow it to act on its own initiative to temporarily detain material suspected of breaching copyright and trade marks.

The Government has also agreed to extend existing laws on technological protection measures (TPMs).

TPMs are technical locks copyright owners use to guard or restrict the use of their material stored in digital format, such as encryption software.

Currently it has not been a criminal offence to circumvent a TPM, but it is to engage in large-scale commercial dealing in devices or other means to enable people to do so.

New requirements under the TPP are to provide civil and criminal penalties against people breaking TPMs - not just those dealing in devices that allow them to be skirted.

There will, however, be clear exceptions in cases where there is no copyright issue - for example, if someone plays region-coded DVDs legally purchased while overseas.

The exceptions are not set out in the TPP - they will be decided by the Government during implementation.


The new 'patent linkage' system to be established would notify pharmaceutical patent holders of generic versions of their product submitted to Medsafe, and give them enough time to seek preliminary injunctions to stop drugs entering the New Zealand market.

The resolution of disputes would remain a matter for the courts, not Medsafe.

An exception already in New Zealand law, that allows the use of a patented pharmaceutical to try and get regulatory approval for a generic version, will remain.

New Zealand has also agreed transition its 50-year copyright period to 70 years.

That will mean New Zealand consumers and businesses will forego savings they otherwise would have made from works such as books, music and films coming off copyright earlier.

The Government still estimates the long-term average annual cost to be around $55 million.

There will be no major changes to how liable internet service providers are for copyright infringements. There had been fears from some internet user groups that the TPP would make ISPs terminate accounts or take other action against users.