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Marketers deal with intellectual property at almost every point in their work. If you are working as a marketer, there are objectives regarding intellectual property. They are to:

The best way to do this is to be specific and transparent about the intellectual property you work with, whether it belongs to you or another party. You can be clear about others’ intellectual property through a licence agreement or assignment. 

Additionally, you can be clear about your own intellectual property with tools like:

  • trade marks;
  • your company name;
  • copyright; and 
  • patents.

This article will discuss each of these intellectual property rights from the perspective of a marketer.

Others’ Intellectual Property

As a marketer, your job predominantly involves dealing with your clients’ intellectual property. Any kind of intellectual property you come across, whether it is secret or well-known, should be treated with caution. To avoid infringing on others’ intellectual property, it is important to set out both parties’ expectations about your work. You can do so with a licence agreement.

A licence agreement is a legal document that outlines the work you will do with someone else’s intellectual property. Essentially, it grants you permission to use intellectual property without the risk of infringement. Licence agreements can be flexible to your needs and change for each piece of work you do. When a licence agreement is in place, the owner of the intellectual property can rest assured that their intellectual property is being used with no impact on their ownership rights. There are three types of use when it comes to licence agreements. They are:

  • exclusive use: this means that the other party to the agreement will be the only user during the period of the agreement;
  • non-exclusive use: this means that both parties can be users; and 
  • sole use: this means that there may only be one licence agreement issued.

You can enter into a licence agreement for others’ intellectual property or for your own intellectual property.

Another method of intellectual property transfer is an assignment. Unlike a licence agreement, an assignment transfers ownership to another person or company. You can assign part or all of your intellectual property. An assignment is binding so it is best to speak to an intellectual property lawyer if you plan to enter into either an assignment or a licence agreement. 

It can be difficult to know what you own when you are the creator of intellectual property,  but you created it for a client. A general rule of thumb is that if you produce it during the course of your employment and the client is paying for it, they are the owner of the intellectual property. To prevent any confusion, make sure to be clear about this in your licence agreement or assignment. 

Your Intellectual Property

It is just as important to be clear about your own intellectual property rights. This will prevent others from infringing on your rights because they will be more likely to know your work is original and will be deterred because of the protections it provides. If you identify, label and manage your intellectual property, you will have:

  • exclusive use of your intellectual;
  • the right to profit from your intellectual property;
  • the power to determine who else can use and profit from your intellectual property; and 
  • legal protection.

Company Name

One of the first things a client sees about your business is your company name. You can register a company name with the New Zealand Companies Office (NZCO). 

Trade Marks

A trade mark is also a registrable intellectual property right. Trade marks give you rights and protections over aspects of your business that identify it. These have to be unique and original to your business. If you meet these two criteria, then you can apply to register your trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office New Zealand (IPONZ). 

Patents

You can use a patent to protect your new invention. To obtain a valid and registerable patent, your invention must be:

  • new; 
  • novel; 
  • inventive; and
  • original.

‘New’ means that your patent cannot be in the public domain yet. Therefore, you will need to keep your invention secret until IPONZ has approved it. 

Copyright

Copyright applies automatically to any creations of the mind. You do not need to register copyright, as it applies automatically as soon as you create your creative work. 

Key Takeaways

As you will be working with your own and others’ intellectual property as a marketer, you will need to take steps to protect both. This will ensure that you avoid conflict and possible legal action. You can do this with a licence agreement or assignment to clarify the boundaries surrounding the use of the intellectual property you deal with. You may also want to recognise your own intellectual property in regards to your business. If you have questions about protecting your intellectual property as a marketer in New Zealand, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers  on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I label my intellectual property?

You can label a registered trade mark with the ® symbol and an unregistered trade mark with the ™ symbol. Copyright can be labelled with the © symbol. Patents do not have a label. 

How much does it cost to register a trade mark in New Zealand?

It costs $100 per class you wish to register it with.

How much does it cost to register a patent in New Zealand?

It costs $250 to register a patent in New Zealand. 

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