WLUG Meeting - 25 July 2005

Location: University of Waikato, LitB
Time: 7pm

Denise Tyrer-Harding of Pipers spoke to the WLUG about IntellectualProperty within NewZealand.

Denise outlined the 4 major forms of Intellectual Property protection:

  • Copyright
  • Design Registration
  • Patents
  • Trademarks

Copyright in New Zealand

  • Free and automatic to the creator.
  • Need evidence that you're the creator - "© year" on the work, and a "development record" is useful
  • Does not protect against someone else independently coming up with the same thing.
  • Copyright given to an entity - an individual person, a company, or an incorporated society.
  • industrial copyright - 16 years from the date of the 50th model created from the design.
  • written copyright - 100 years from the date of the creator's death

Design Registration

For hardware; lasts 15 years. Requires application to the Patent Office. This covers how a device looks, not its functionality.


Until recently, software could not be patented in NZ at all. The key clause is "method of manufacture", and this has been re-interpreted to (sometimes?) include software when combined with hardware. NZ is a signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty - 18 months of protection in ~100 countries.

In NZ, patents last for 20 years. The benefit of the doubt (during application) goes to the patentee, because there are methods for revocation -- IPONZ review and judicial review.


  • For product identification
  • not "lauditary" - ie, generally can't trademark names, placenames, sports clubs, etc.
  • Trademarks not limited to words - the Harley-Davidson "sound", specific colours (eg the yellow used by the yellow pages or by McDonalds).
  • Common law trademark is based on local reputation, and does not require registration.
  • Registered trademark is national.


  • Trade secrets, "know-how"
  • circuit boards
  • Patent application process
  • 85% of many companies is now "intangibles" -- brand value, trademarks, etc.

General Discussion/Q-and-A session

  • moral/ethical aspects of patents
  • drug patents
  • cheaper to license a patent and get on with life than fight a bad patent
  • employment contracts claiming rights to any employee's ideas.
  • funny patents