Patent Protection in the Pacific

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From time to time we are asked about how to protect a client’s invention in one of the Pacific island nations.  This is not always an easy thing to do, and some advice on how to seek patent protection in some of our closest neighbours is set out below.

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands has no independent intellectual property system.  Instead, New Zealand patents automatically extend to cover this country.

Fiji

Fiji has its own standalone intellectual property system, meaning that patent applications can be filed directly at the Fijian Patent Office.

Alternatively, a UK patent can be used as the basis for a Fijian patent, provided that the UK patent is registered at the Fijian Patent Office within three years of its date of grant.

French Polynesia

A French patent can be extended to cover French Polynesia.  However, the extension is not automatic, and the patentee must request acknowledgement of the IP right at the Polynesian Patent Office.

Kiribati

Although Kiribati does not have its own patent system, a UK patent can be used as the basis for patent protection in Kiribati, provided that it is registered in Kiribati within three years of its date of grant.

Marshall Islands

There is currently no mechanism by which patent protection may be obtained in the Marshall Islands.

Micronesia

Although Micronesia has intellectual property laws within its legal code, only the Copyright provisions have been enacted.  As a result, it is not possible to obtain patent protection in this country.

Nauru

A Nauruan patent application can be filed based on a pending Australian, US or UK application or a granted Australian, US or UK patent, provided that the granted patent is registered in Nauru within three years of its date of grant.

New Caledonia

Patent protection in New Caledonia is obtained through a French patent.  French patents automatically extend to cover this territory.

Niue

Niue has no independent intellectual property system.  Instead, New Zealand patents automatically extend to cover this country.

Palau

There is currently no mechanism by which patent protection may be obtained in Palau.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has an well-developed intellectual property system, and patent protection in the country may be obtained either through a direct filing at the PNG Patent Office or through national phase entry from an international (PCT) patent application.

Samoa

Samoan patent laws came into force in 2012.  Similar to Australia, patent applicants can apply for either standard (20 year) patent protection or innovation (7 year) patent protection.

Solomon Islands

A UK patent can be used as the basis for patent protection in the Solomon Islands, provided that it is registered in that country within three years of its date of grant.

Timor-Leste

No specific patent laws exist in Timor-Leste at present.  However, the publication of Cautionary Notices in local publications can be used to place potential infringers on notice.

Tokelau

Tokelau has no independent intellectual property system.  Instead, New Zealand patents automatically extend to cover this country.

Tonga

Patent applicants may file patent applications directly at the Tongan Patent Office.  Tongan laws provide for either standard (20 year) patent applications or utility models having a term of 7 years.

Tuvalu

A UK patent can be used as the basis for patent protection in Tuvalu, provided that it is registered in that country within three years of its date of grant.

Vanuatu

At present, a UK patent can be used as the basis for patent protection in Vanuatu, provided that it is registered in that country within three years of its date of grant.

However, Vanuatu is in the process of enacting its own intellectual property laws, and it is likely that the provisions allowing re-registration of UK patents will be removed in the fairly near future.

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