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Idealog—in the ideas business

IP laws and capital markets a priority

The government has plenty of opportunities to deepen New Zealand's capital markets and fix IP laws to stimulate innovation, a briefing to the incoming commerce minister reads.

The paper, released by the Ministry of Economic Development, recommended facilitating investment in Fonterra through the Trading Amongst Farmers (TAF) proposal.

It also suggests using the retendering for default KiwiSaver providers by 2014 to further support the development of New Zealand’s capital markets, and and facilitating exports of more financial services, particularly high-value accounting and legal services managed funds.

The ministry said it had already begun work with Australia to develop a passporting regime to allow managed funds to be marketed across the Asia-Pacific region – meaning local funds could operate in other countries and New Zealand businesses could provide legal and accounting services to foreign funds.

Capital markets could be further expanded by taking advantage of the mixed-ownership SOE model.

It also notes that New Zealand intellectual property laws are outdated and "at risk of becoming irrelevant".

Patent laws in particular are lagging behind best practice and the government is taking a stab at modernising IP legislation through the Patents Bill, which it urges the minister to prioritise.

Further, the report states that Maori are not adequately protected by current laws and recommends changes to the IP system in that regard.

The Wai 262 report by the Waitangi Tribunal argues that culturally appropriate commercialisation of Māori traditional knowledge and cultural expressions will grow the Maori economy.

"The government should seek to promote innovation in Maori firms as one of its objectives in responding to the Wai 262 report."

The recently-appointed Maori Economic Development Panel is also likely to have something to say on the matter when it reports back by July with an action plan.

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