Intellectual Property (IP) is an important part of every business. Whether you are choosing a name for your new company or product, finding a better way to operate equipment, or designing technical products, you should have an IP strategy.
Saunders & Co is different from most law firms because as well as helping you protect your brand, license your know-how, and enforce your rights, our IP department is headed by a Registered Patent Attorney who is qualified and experienced in protecting how things work and what they look like, and coordinating your protection strategy both in New Zealand and overseas.
Unlike most law firms, we provide a full range of services relating to designs, industrial copyright, and patents which can only be provided by a Registered Patent Attorney (“hard IP” services). We also provide full legal services involving trade marks, creative copyright, confidential information, and trade secrets (“soft IP” services).
Because Virginia is both a Registered Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney and a Registered Australian Trade Mark Attorney, she is fully qualified to act directly to protect your IP both in New Zealand and Australia. We also provide these services to our overseas clients and associates, and can provide our schedule of charges to overseas agents on request.
Some of the common types of IP you may want (or already have) are:
such as customer lists, which should be protected in your employment agreements and commercial contracts
you have automatic protection for anything you write, draw, or photograph
protect the look of products with novel styling by filing for registration before you sell or disclose your design
automatic protection in New Zealand for sixteen years for design drawings and prototypes (but in many overseas jurisdictions, notably Australia, this is not enforceable, so you need a different protection strategy for exports)
protect how things work, providing a 20 year monopoly for a novel and inventive product, process, or improvement, available in New Zealand and export markets (for maximum options internationally, apply for protection before any non-confidential disclosure or commercial use)
most often your brand name, but also anything you use to identify your company – a logo, colour, shape, etc – are best protected by registration in any jurisdiction where you sell or manufacture
internal processes and procedures that can be kept confidential in-house, and covered in your employment agreements
Because the value of your IP is how you use it, our IP department works alongside our expert commercial teams, specialist tax advisors and employment lawyers, and litigation team to give you the legal tools you need to maximise the return on your good ideas.
The process may start with a consultation to discuss the specifics of your business, where the value of your IP currently lies, and options for improving your position. We recommend conducting an “IP Audit” at least every five years.
External links to further information