IP protection in New Zealand
You can register IP rights in New Zealand for trade marks, patents, designs and plant varieties.
The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is the government body responsible for registering trade marks, patents, designs, and plant variety rights, all of which can be applied for online. IPONZ also provides searchable trade mark, patent and design databases.
For the most part, IP registration and protection in New Zealand is very similar to Australia, with registration and renewal fees slightly cheaper in New Zealand.
- New Zealand employs a first-to-use rule for obtaining trade mark rights, meaning that the first person to use a mark in New Zealand will generally have superior rights to a person who files a trade mark application at a later date.
- Unregistered trade marks may in some cases be protected under common law in New Zealand. However, a registered trade mark confers statutory protection that provides significant advantages in trade mark disputes.
- Protection is available in New Zealand for non-traditional marks such as three-dimensional signs, sounds and smells.
- Trade mark registrations may be removed from the register if they are not used over a period of three or more consecutive years after registration.
- New Zealand Customs provide cross-border measures for the protection of registered trade marks.
- Most countries require absolute novelty for protecting an invention or registering a design. Only local novelty is required in New Zealand. This means that as long as an invention or design is not known or used in New Zealand before the filing date, an applicant can potentially obtain protection. However, New Zealand will be introducing an absolute novelty requirement for patents and designs in order to bring its patent and design law into line with most other countries.
- Innovation patents are not available in New Zealand.
- Certain types of subject matter are not patentable in New Zealand.
- Registered design protection is available in New Zealand for a five-year period, which can be renewed for a further 10 years.
- New Zealand has similar copyright laws to Australia. However, copyright in New Zealand can protect industrially applied artistic works. For example, a product made in three dimensions from an artistic work such as a drawing. This means that where a product has been copied in New Zealand and the owner or inventor does not have patent or design protection, they may still be able to rely on copyright to prevent the reproduction of their product by a third party.
- New Zealand has provisions for the protection of plant variety rights for 20 or 23 years depending on the type of plant.
If you are considering exporting to New Zealand, it is recommended that you contact an IP professional experienced in New Zealand IP law and trade to advise on local IP, customs and other laws regulating imports and trade in New Zealand. Australian IP professionals can facilitate such contact.
This information has been developed in conjuction with Griffith Hack Lawyers and A J Park (New Zealand).
- New Zealand IP Passort PDF [272KB]
Last Updated: 06/12/2012