Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property rights are a valuable part of your business.  Generally, an intellectual property right gives you or your company the exclusive right to exploit that intellectual property for a period of time.

Intellectual property rights including patents, registered designs, and copyright are intended to stimulate innovation and creativity by providing a limited monopoly for their creators.

The most commonly protected forms of IP are:

Trade marksA sign that distinguishes your goods or services from those provided by other traders. This could be a word, brand, logo, colour, or even a sound or smell.
Patents Protects new inventions, i.e. how something works
Registered designsProtects new designs, i.e. the “look” or eye-appeal, but not the functional aspects, of a product
CopyrightProtects original works, including literary, dramatic, and artistic works. In New Zealand copyright can protect features shown technical drawings when recreated in 3D objects

Your IP might also include:

  • Trade Secrets or Confidential Information
  • Know-how
  • Get-up or trade dress
  • Plant Varieties

A single product will often have several types of IP associated with it, and these can be protected individually.  Our flowchart below sets out some general rules so you can figure out what sort of IP protection you require.


We also supply our Notes on Intellectual Property (PDF, 650k) to serve as a brief introduction prior to consulting a patent attorney.


A number of companies make a good living out of sending bogus renewal reminders and/or running bogus directories.  For further information see the Patent Office website.

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