IP protection in New Zealand

You can register intellectual property (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. Registration and renewal fees are slightly cheaper in New Zealand.

Trade marks

  • New Zealand employs a first to use rule for obtaining trade mark rights. This means 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.

Plant varieties

  • New Zealand has provisions for the protection of plant variety rights for 20 or 23 years depending on the type of plant.
Last updated: 
22 March 2016