Intellectual property

Intellectual property refers to new or original innovations and creations of the mind. This section also covers copyright, trade marks, patents and other forms of intellectual property protection.

Intellectual property refers to new or original innovations and creations of the mind such as:

  • literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings and films, broadcasts
  • performances of performing artists
  • inventions in all fields of human endeavour
  • industrial designs
  • trade marks, service marks and commercial names and designations.

Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property rights (also known as IPRs) give creators and innovators the exclusive right, for a limited time, to control what others may do with their creations and innovations.

This exclusive right is based on the idea that intellectual property rights give people an opportunity to make a return on their investment in creativity or innovation. It also provides an incentive for creative or innovative activity that might not take place otherwise.

The benefits of this additional creativity and innovation are considered to outweigh the costs imposed on society by intellectual property rights.


A patent is an exclusive right granted for new inventions for a period of up to 20 years. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application. IPONZ is the government agency responsible for granting patents.

Read about our consultation on Disclosure of origin requirements in the patents regime.

Read more about patents on the IPONZ website(external link)

Parallel importing in New Zealand

Parallel importing allows retailers, wholesalers and other parties to get import for resale goods subject to copyright and trade mark rights in New Zealand directly from licensed or authorised overseas sources, instead of dealing with local suppliers, licensees or agents.

Parallel-imported goods are not pirated and counterfeit goods. They are genuine and lawful goods that have been put into circulation in another country either by, or with the consent of, the owner of the relevant copyright or trade mark.

By contrast, pirated and counterfeit goods are infringing goods that have been produced or sold overseas without the consent of the relevant copyright or trade mark owner. The Copyright Act 1994 and Trade Marks Act 2002 provide criminal offences for importing pirated and counterfeit goods for resale.

For further information (except legal advice) email

Trade marks

Trade marks can include words, logos, colours, shapes, sounds, smells or any combination of these. Once a trade mark is registered, the ® symbol may be used to show that it is protected.

A trade mark enables businesses to distinguish their products or services from similar products or services offered by competitors. The main purpose is to create a distinctive and preferably memorable brand that customers associate with quality products or services.

Find out about New Zealand trade mark registration and protection on the IPONZ website(external link)

In this section

Haka Ka Mate Attribution Act guidelines

Jointly with Ngāti Toa Rangatira, we have developed guidelines for the Haka Ka Mate Attribution Act 2014.


Designs protection gives the design’s owner the exclusive right to make, import, sell or license an article to which their design has been industrially applied.

Geographical indications

A geographical indication (GI) identifies a product as originating in a region, area or locality where its quality, reputation or other characteristic is attributable to its geographical origin. The characteristics of the product must depend on the geographical place of production.

Plant variety rights

This page is about the protection of new plant varieties and our review of the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987.

Integrated circuit design protection

In New Zealand, the layout design of semi-conductors and integrated circuits is protected by the Layout Designs Act 1994.

Intellectual property enforcement

If you own intellectual property, you are responsible for monitoring the way it is used and protecting it against infringement.

Mātauranga and Taonga Māori and the Intellectual Property System

The Government is developing a whole-of-government approach to address the issues raised in the Wai 262 inquiry. This creates an opportunity to take a holistic approach to protecting mātauranga and taonga Māori in the intellectual property system.

Disclosure of origin requirements in the patents regime

We consulted on possible options to introduce a disclosure of origin requirement in the patents regime.

Proposed Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill

The proposed Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill is an omnibus bill intended to make ‘technical” amendments to the Patents Act 2013, the Trade Marks Act 2002, the Designs Act 1953 (the IP Laws), and the associated regulations.

The Trans-Tasman patent attorney registration regime

The Trans-Tasman patent attorney register records the names of persons and companies who may provide patent-related services in Australia and New Zealand.