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As a hairdresser, you may create intellectual property that is both artistic and practical. It is important to protect your creations and keep them as your own. The best way to guarantee this is to know the types of intellectual property you need and how to register and enforce them. This article will outline these rights for you and detail steps for protecting your intellectual property rights. 

1. Get a Grasp On Intellectual Property

Just like your business may own your physical premises as an asset, or your tools and equipment, you can own your ideas as intellectual property. Intellectual property is a legal concept that protects creations of the mind. If you own the intellectual property rights to a particular idea or intangible thing, you can control how other people access or use it. In New Zealand, intellectual property includes:

  • trade marks;
  • trade secrets;
  • copyright;
  • patents; and
  • designs.

For instance, if you develop your own hair products, you may be able to protect the appearance of your product with design rights. You could also protect the process of making those products with a patent.

To best protect your intellectual property, you must understand what assets at your hairdressing business qualify as this concept under the law.

2. Register Important Trade Marks

A trade mark is a type of intellectual property that you may encounter as a hairdresser. It can protect a wide range of signs that form a part of your business branding, such as a:

  • business or product name;
  • logo;
  • slogan;
  • colour;
  • shape;
  • sound;
  • smell;
  • taste; or
  • combination of these.

Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand

Our free Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand guide explains how to register and defend your trade mark registration.

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The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is in charge of most intellectual property in New Zealand, including trade marks. If you have intellectual property that is considered a trade mark you may wish to register it with IPONZ. There are many benefits to registering your trade mark, including the:

  • exclusive right to use your intellectual property; and
  • power to determine who can use your intellectual property.

Trade marks could be relevant to you as a hairdresser if you are thinking of starting your own hair salon or hairdressing business. You may also have an idea that could change the beauty industry that you want to market and sell. For example, you could register both your business’ name and logo as trade marks.

To register your trade mark, you must:

  1. ensure your trade mark meets the requirements for registration;
  2. complete the online application form. 

Once you have applied, IPONZ will typically review the application within 15 working days. A registered trade mark lasts for 10 years. You can signal your registered trade mark to others by using the ® symbol. You can also enforce your intellectual property rights if you think that someone else has infringed them.

3. Keep Trade Secrets Confidential

Trade secrets are another kind of intellectual property, which refers to information that can bring commercial advantage to your business. These include:

  • formulas;
  • recipes;
  • pieces of information;
  • methods; and
  • processes unique to your business.

You may develop unique methods and processes for styling your client’s hair at your hairdressing business or create your own homemade hair gels or creams. Consequently, these things can qualify as trade secrets because they can bring commercial value to your hairdressing business. 

Following that, trade secrets do have some inherent protection under the law, but that can depend on how you keep these secrets confidential. Therefore, it is crucial that where you identify things that can qualify as trade secrets, you take steps to achieve that. 

4. Establish Appropriate Contracts and Agreements

On top of registering your intellectual property for formal rights, you need to cover intellectual property in contracts with:

  • employees;
  • suppliers;
  • contractors;
  • partners; and
  • clients.

If your intellectual property is likely to be a factor in any  business relationship, you should protect it with a dedicated clause, covering things such as the:

  • fact that you remain the owner of your intellectual property;
  • other party must keep confidential information (such as trade secrets) secret; and
  • other party cannot use your intellectual property outside of the way you specify. 

How intellectual property plays into your business relationship can vary, and will depend on the specific circumstances at the time. However, if you cover this matter in any contracts you draw up, be sure to include promises or assurances that protect your intellectual property interests.

For example, if you contract a photographer to take some promotional shots of your hairdressing models, who owns the intellectual property rights of the photographs themselves would be a key issue. Therefore, this is something you need to address in your contract with them.

Key Takeaways

There are many different types of intellectual property to consider as a hairdresser. For example, you may encounter kinds that you need to register for the best protection, which you can do with IPONZ. Doing this then gives you the best foundation to use, benefit from and protect your intellectual property. If you need assistance with your intellectual property, LegalVision’s experienced intellectual property lawyers are happy to help. Call us on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to register a trade mark?

It costs $100, plus GST, per class in fees to register a trade mark.

How much does it cost to register a patent?

It costs $250, plus GST, to register a patent. 

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