Protection with patents and trade marks

Protection with patents and trade marks


If you’ve got a new invention, are launching a brand or marketing a new stream of business, it’s important to consider whether you need a patent or trade mark. Both take at least six months to process in New Zealand, so the sooner you do your homework, the better.

  • A patent is granted for an invention. It can be a new product or process, the material it is made from, or how something is made.
  • A trade mark protects your name, logo or brand. It can be a word, phrase, number, symbol, logo, colour, label, shape, or even a sound or smell, provided the mark can be represented graphically.

What are the benefits of a patent?

  • It gives you a legal right to stop others from making, using, or selling something you have invented.
  • Your invention is protected in New Zealand for up to 20 years.

** Applying for a patent? Be careful about revealing details of your invention to other people before you have filed your application: doing this may cause your application to be declined.

What are the benefits of a trade mark?

  • Trade mark registration is the easiest and most effective way to stop others from using your trade mark (or one similar to it).
  • Details of trade mark registrations are publicly available on a searchable database so competitors considering adopting a mark like yours will be put off.
  • You have the exclusive right to use the trade mark throughout New Zealand to promote the goods and/or services it covers for up to 10 years.
  • You can use the ® symbol with the trade mark.
  • You can sell or assign the trade mark to another person or business, or license its use to other parties.
  • It enhances the value of your business, ie: if you plan on selling your business, buyers will be interested in your IP assets.

** Before you do anything, check to see if a trade mark or logo like yours is already on the NZ Register, at
** If you need protection in other countries as well as New Zealand, talk to an IP lawyer. They do extensive searches of brand names across all relevant categories, advise on similar companies and can tell you whether your application is likely to be accepted.