The Rise of Intellectual Property Law: Practice Note for Legal Advisers

Intellectual property (IP) law is becoming increasingly significant in New Zealand. As companies and their business models become more sophisticated, the laws of intellectual property are becoming increasingly complex. Getting things wrong can lead to unwanted expense and in extreme cases, a permanent loss of rights.

Practical Law New Zealand has collaborated with IP law expert Ian Finch of James & Wells to produce a suite of practice notes on this area. The new IP resources provide practitioners with a valuable tool in understanding these nuances and avoiding the pitfalls of this rapidly advancing field of law.

Why download the “Introduction to Intellectual Property Law in New Zealand” Practice Note?

If a practitioner finds themselves needing to work in the area of intellectual property law it is absolutely essential that they understand the topic, and any complications that might emerge, in advance.

Practical Law New Zealand’s practice notes in this area provide expert guidance from Ian Finch of James & Wells. The practice notes are clear and useful guides to the law of intellectual property, and are an invaluable tool for practitioners.

The multiple lockdowns and recent changes to the global economy have caused an explosion in IP activity at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). This is most significantly shown in trademark application filings. The 2020/2021 period saw a 23% growth in trade mark filings, and that growth has continued to accelerate this year. From February 2021 to February 2022, trade mark filings increased by nearly 30%.

In addition, there is anecdotal evidence of New Zealand businesses bringing their manufacturing back from overseas. With more products being made in New Zealand, local intellectual property laws may have a sizable impact on a party’s ability to produce its products, or to stop competitors from producing rival products.

However, as intellectual property law becomes more important to New Zealanders, it has also become increasingly complex. Wholesale revisions to patent legislation in 2014 to make it more consistent with international jurisprudence has led to applications being examined with greater scrutiny and according to standards which have received little or no domestic judicial consideration. The trademarks legislation is being constantly fine-tuned to keep pace with developments in local and international practice. Reforms are proposed for copyright and plant variety legislation.

Intellectual property case law has also become more nuanced. The recent ZIPLOC cases, which concluded in the Supreme Court in International Consolidated Business Proprietary Limited v SC Johnson & Son Inc [2020] NZSC 110, highlight the pitfalls that may catch out even experienced practitioners. In the ZIPLOC cases, a simple oversight over when to date an application for revocation of a trade mark ended up leaving a party struggling to register its own trade mark and requiring it to argue the matter all the way to the Supreme Court. It was an expense that could have easily been avoided.

This resource is accurate at the time of first publication and is written by Practical Law’s experienced team of lawyer writers who create and maintain resources so that you can respond quickly and effectively as regulation updates unfold.

Abigail Milburn, Practical Law New Zealand Lead is a qualified solicitor in New Zealand and England & Wales. Abigail practised as a lawyer in New Zealand (at Buddle Findlay) and London (at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and Bingham McCutchen LLP) for 12 years, specialising in restructuring and corporate insolvency.

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