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Recruitment businesses have many points of contact, because they are the middle man between those who need jobs filled and those who need a job. This means your recruitment business needs to have a strong brand. This will help the people you work with to recognise you easily. It is also important because many recruitment businesses are operating in New Zealand. As a result, you want your business to stand out and not be similar to others. To build a strong brand, you may need to consider intellectual property rights such as trade marks and copyright. Understanding these rights correctly will allow you to protect your successful brand. This article will outline the use of each of these intellectual property rights so that you can decide which is right for your recruitment business. 

Understanding Intellectual Property in New Zealand

Similar to physical property, you can own intellectual property for your business. However, intellectual property is an intangible asset, and it refers to the creations of the mind you make for your business. This may include the logo that you come up with, or marketing materials that you write. In addition, when you own this property and have corresponding intellectual property rights, you will have legal options if someone tries to steal or copy your ideas. Intellectual property rights in New Zealand include:

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

As a recruitment business, you are most likely to encounter trade marks and copyright. 

Registering Important Business Trade Marks

A trade mark is often the first stop for businesses that want to protect their brand. A trade mark is an intellectual property right that protects any sign you use to identify and differentiate your business brand. This can be a:

  • word;
  • logo;
  • sound;
  • shape;
  • colour;
  • smell; or
  • anything similar to these. 

For instance, you may register your business name as a trade mark.

Any part of your brand that you wish to protect as a trade mark must be unique and not too similar to anything else on the trade marks register. With the trade mark search tool on the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) website, you can search all existing trade marks that are registered with IPONZ, as well as those that are pending. This will give you an idea of whether any existing registered trade marks are similar to yours. 

If you want to register your trade mark, you can do so on the IPONZ website. Their website has an online application that you can fill out and submit. IPONZ will typically examine applications within 15 working days, but the entire registration process takes a minimum of 6 months in New Zealand. You can label registered trade marks with the ® symbol. 

Benefits of Registering Important Trade Marks

Additionally, you can have certain rights through unregistered trade marks. However, these must meet criteria under other laws to be enforced against third parties. For example, your unregistered trade mark must have a strong reputation in the marketplace. To indicate your rights, you can label unregistered trade marks with the ™ symbol. 

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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Despite this, trade mark registration gives you greater certainty for protection. Registered trade marks provide you with an exclusive right to utilize and exploit the intellectual property that you own. It also means that you can determine who else can use your intellectual property. If you think someone is using or benefiting from your trade mark without your permission, you might be able to take legal action, and having an understanding of trade mark registration will help you with that. 


Copyright protects artistic works. In particular, it applies to:

  • literary works;
  • dramatic works;
  • artistic works;
  • musical works;
  • films;
  • sound recordings;
  • communication works; and
  • typographical arrangements of published editions.

As a recruitment business, this could be a website or informative booklet you create for clients. 

However, copyright does not require registration. This means that it is up to you to recognise your own copyright material and manage and protect it. One way to do this is to label your copyright material with the © symbol. Another is knowing what rights you have and what you can stop others from doing. As the copyright owner, you have the right to deal with the work in various ways, including:

  • distributing it;
  • publishing it;
  • performing;
  • selling it;
  • adapting it;
  • playing/showing the work in public; and
  • authorising others to do the above acts.

If you think that someone is overstepping your copyright and doing one of these acts without your permission, you might be able to take legal action. 

Key Takeaways

It is important to stand out as a recruitment business because you work in a busy market and engage with people across the employment spectrum. You should consider registering important intellectual property to be certain that your recruitment business brand stands out and is protected. If you would like more information or help with intellectual property at your recruitment business, contact LegalVision’s intellectual property lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to register my trade mark?

Each class you wish to register your trade mark under costs $100, plus GST, in fees.

Can you register a copyright?

No, you do not need to register copyright. If you wish to have more protection for your artistic works, you may want to consider if your intellectual property falls under design registration. 

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