You can distinguish your goods or services in the market place by using a trade mark. Your trade mark could include words, colours, logos, shapes, sounds, smells or any combination of these.
- Protects your logo, name and brand
- Costs $150 per class, excluding GST
- Takes a minimum of 6 months to acquire
- Can last up to 10 years before renewal
As customers learn to value and trust a trade mark, they may be willing to pay more for a product or service bearing that mark.
A trade mark should be:
- Memorable and distinctive
- Different to those of your competitors
If you manufacture and sell your product, you may use a distinctive mark, colour or branding on your product. You could look at whether building goodwill in an unregistered trade mark or registering your trade mark is right for your business.
Your food or beverage’s packaging may carry a distinctive mark, colour, or branding. You could look at whether building goodwill in an unregistered trade mark or registering your trade mark is right for your business.
A patent gives you a legal right to stop others from making, using, or selling something you have invented for up to 20 years. Your rights only exist in each country or region where your patent is granted.
- An exclusive right for a new invention
- Costs $250 to apply, excluding GST
- Takes a minimum of 6 months to acquire
- Can last up to 20 years
You can patent a new product or process, the material it is made from, or how something is made. Patents are one of the most secure forms of IP protection.
The invention must be:
- Not excluded
Processes used to make your product, novel substances or chemicals your product is made from and any unique apparatus you use to manufacture your health product could benefit from patent protection.
Your manufactured product may be a patentable invention. Your production line may use special machinery or tools that your business has made or a unique chemical or compound at a particular stage of the manufacturing process. You could consider whether a patent will help you add value to your business.
While software in itself may not be patentable, some processes that use the computer program might be. You may also have created or designed hardware to run your software or your software may otherwise have a technical effect that is protectable. Carefully consider whether your product or associated components could be protected by a patent.
A design in New Zealand is defined as the new or original features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process or means.
- Protects the visual design of your product
- Costs $100 to apply, excluding GST
- Usually takes 6 months to acquire
- Can last up to 15 years
Design registration protects only the external appearance of a manufactured article, especially those novel or original design features that can appeal to the eye of a customer.
To register a design, it must be:
- Not purely functional
- Not a principal of construction
- Not otherwise excluded
You may present your product in a bottle or package that has been designed to stand out in the market place. Registering the design might offer you an advantage if your bottle or packaging is unique.
Your health product may have distinctive packaging or appearance which could be unique and readily associated with your business. You might look at whether a registered design would help protect your rights to this shape or appearance.
Copyright protects your original works like artwork, books, computer programs, drawings, films, music, and sound recordings. You may use the symbol © to help you demonstrate that you claim copyright in a particular work, but you do not need to.
- Protects original works
- Automatic right
- Duration varies depending on the category
In New Zealand, copyright is an automatic unregistered right that comes into existence every time an original work is created, published and performed.
Copyrighted works must be:
- An expression of ideas
- Your property
Your recipe or composition of your product may be recorded somewhere, in which case it may benefit automatically from copyright protection. You could consider more readily identifying your assertion of copyright with the symbol © and ensuring that all those that have access to that document are aware that you claim copyright in it.
Copyright is likely to be integral to your business model. Consider how you assert copyright over the works you publish, and the kinds of licensing, ownership, and royalty arrangements you have that relate to the publishing work your business is involved in.
Copyright is likely to be important to your business model. Consider how you assert copyright over your work and the kinds of licensing, ownership, and royalty arrangements you have for your software. If you have employees, consider how you ensure ownership of, and protect, the copyright in work they create in employment. If you are an IT contractor, consider who will own the copyright in the work you produce.
A grant of plant variety rights for a new plant variety gives you the exclusive right to produce for sale and to sell propagating material of the variety.
- Protects your specific plant variety
- Costs a minimum of $900, excluding GST
- Usually takes 1 to 5 years to acquire
- Can last 20 or 23 years
As a plant variety rights (PVR) holder you may license others to produce for sale and to sell propagating material of the protected variety. Rights holders commonly collect royalties from the commercialisation of their protected varieties.
A plant variety must be:
- Distinct, uniform and stable
- An acceptable denomination
A trade secret is key confidential information that is not publicly known but that has real economic value to a business. This is not a registrable intellectual property right.
- Maintains competitive advantage
- Generally free
- Self enforced
- Valid as long as you don't disclose this information
Trade secret protection only applies where reasonable efforts have been made to keep the information secret. At a minimum this requires completing confidentiality agreements with employees, vendors and clients who may have access to trade secret information.
Examples of trade secrets:
- Confidential processes
- Customer information
- Business strategies
- Secret recipes
Domain name registration
A domain name helps people locate your website. The full internet address for your website is called a uniform resource locator (URL). Both can help distinguish your website and business from other similar businesses operating in different places around the world.
- Helps ensure you have a presence on the web
- Usually costs less than $100
- Instantly available from www.example.com
- Usually leased on a 1 - 5 years plan
A domain name (website address) is a unique identifier on the internet. It also describes the name to the right of the @ in an email address.
Domain names can't be:
- Almost identical to another company name
Company name registration
A company name reservation stops any other person from registering a company with that name. Reserving your company name is the first step in incorporating a company in New Zealand.
- Maintains competitive advantage
- Usually costs less than $200
- Instantly available online
- Valid as long as you are trading or trading as that name
Names can be reserved if they aren't identical or almost identical to another company name, aren't offensive and don't contain certain words that are restricted or protected by other legislation.
Your name can't be:
- Identical or almost identical to another
- Protected by other legislation