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What Are the Different Types of IP in NZ?

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The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is the New Zealand government agency in charge of granting and registering intellectual property rights in New Zealand. This includes:

  • patents;
  • designs;
  • trade marks;
  • geographical indications; and 
  • plant variety rights.

Another form of intellectual property available in New Zealand is copyright, however this is not registrable and applies automatically for certain works you create. 

By protecting your intellectual property, you obtain the exclusive right to use, sell or license your intellectual property right. However, it can be difficult to determine which intellectual property right is best for you. This article explores the different intellectual property rights in New Zealand.

Patents

A patent is an intellectual property right for an invention. A patent provides you with the exclusive right to exploit your invention, including stopping others from:

  • making;
  • using; or 
  • selling your invention.

This protection lasts twenty years provided that you pay the appropriate renewal fees. A New Zealand patent provides you with patent protection within New Zealand. 

A patent in New Zealand must:

  • have novelty; 
  • have an inventive step; and 
  • be useful. 

In the event you disclose your invention before filing a patent application in New Zealand, there is a twelve month grace period for limited public disclosure. This includes unauthorised disclosure or reasonable trial of the invention. Further, there is a six month grace period for disclosure made at a prescribed exhibition.

LegalVision cannot provide legal assistance with patents. We recommend you contact your local law society.

Designs

A design protects the:

  • shape;
  • pattern;
  • ornamentation;
  • feature; or 
  • configuration of a product, whether two dimensional or three dimensional.

In saying this, a design protects the way something looks, rather than how it works, which can be protected by a patent. A design provides you with the exclusive right to exploit your design, including stopping others from:

  • making;
  • using; or
  • selling products that utilise your design.

This lasts fifteen years as long as you pay the appropriate renewal fees. A New Zealand design provides you with design protection within New Zealand.

A New Zealand design must be: 

  • new; and
  • original.

Once a New Zealand design application is filed, it will undergo a formal examination and be assessed against the prior art base to determine whether it is new and original. If so, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) will register the design in New Zealand. This process can take approximately six months. 

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Trade Marks

A trade mark protects your brand. A trade mark can be a: 

  • letter;
  • number;
  • word;
  • phrase;
  • sound;
  • smell;
  • shape;
  • logo;
  • movement;
  • aspect of packaging; or 
  • a combination of these.

A trade mark distinguishes your products or services from those belonging to your competitors. A registered trade mark provides you with the exclusive right to exploit your trade mark, including stopping others from using your trade mark while it remains registered. A trade mark can be renewed indefinitely, such that if you are using your trade mark you are able to keep your trade mark registered so long as you pay the appropriate renewal fee when it is due. A New Zealand trade mark provides you with trade mark protection within New Zealand.

A New Zealand trade mark must be: 

  • new; and
  • distinctive. 

Once a New Zealand trade mark application is filed, it will undergo a formal examination and be assessed against the prior art based to determine whether it is new and distinctive. If so, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) will register the trade mark in New Zealand. This process can take approximately six months. 

Geographical Indication

A geographical indication is a sign such as a word or logo used on a wine or spirit that comes from a particular location and which possess a quality, reputation or other characteristic linked to that location.

For example, the Champagne region in France is known for exporting sparkling wine which is known as ‘Champagne’, while sparkling wine from any other region is not ‘Champagne’.

Geographical indications are collective rights, such that anyone who complies with the provisions of the geographical indication can use said geographical indication.

For example, any vinter in the Champagne region in France who produces sparkling wine can call their sparkling wine ‘Champagne’. The geographical indication is not limited to any one owner.

You can renew geographical indications indefinitely.

Plant Variety Rights

A plant variety right protects a new plant variety. A patent variety right provides you with the exclusive right to produce for sale and to sell propagating material of a plant variety for twenty to twenty three years, provided that the appropriate renewal fees are paid. A New Zealand plant variety right provides you with plant variety right protection within New Zealand. 

A New Zealand plant variety right must be: 

  • new; 
  • distinct, sufficiently uniform and stable; and 
  • having an acceptable denomination.  

A plant variety right protects a new cultivated plant variety. It does not protect plant associated algae and bacteria. Where a plant variety right protects a propagated fruit, flower or vegetable variety, a plant variety right also protects your exclusive right to propagate the variety for the commercial production of:

  • fruits;
  • flowers; or 
  • vegetables of that variety.

Copyright 

Copyright is a non-registrable intellectual property right. It applies automatically to original works, such as:

  • artworks;
  • books;
  • illustrations;
  • plays;
  • films; and
  • sound recordings.

While copyright recognises that you own the rights to your work and provides you with the exclusive right to prevent others from copying, selling, performing or communicating your work, it does not prevent someone independently producing the same work. Depending on the type of work you have created, it may be more fitting to obtain a registrable intellectual property right, such as a patent, design or trade mark to protect your intellectual property.  

Any copyright that is created in New Zealand typically also automatically applies in most countries in the world.

In most instances, you will own the copyright in your work for the duration of your lifetime, plus fifty years. Determining how long you will have copyright over your work is based on the category of the work, as well as when the work was made. 

Key Takeaways

Intellectual property rights in New Zealand include registrable intellectual property rights such as patents, designs, trade marks, geographical indications and plant variety rights. Non-registrable intellectual property rights, being copyright, are also protected in New Zealand. By protecting your intellectual property, you obtain the exclusive right to use, sell or license your intellectual property right.

If you need assistance registering a trade mark for your business, our experienced trade mark lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are trade marks?

A trade mark protects your brand and can be registered over things such as your business’ logo, name, packaging or phrase.

What are patents?

A patent is an intellectual property right for an invention. A patent provides you with the exclusive right to exploit your invention.

What is a design?

A design protects the shape, pattern, ornamentation, feature or configuration of a product.

What is copyright?

Copyright is Ip protection applied automatically to original works, such as artworks, books, illustrations, plays, films and sound recordings. 

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Linda Katnic

Linda Katnic

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