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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore tō tātou waka e ū ki uta

Intellectual property key terms: Trade marks

Trade marks

A trade mark is often one of the most valuable parts of a business. Over time, consumers start to associate a trade mark with goods and services of a certain quality. For instance, the Nike trade mark is worth much more than the individual products produced by Nike.

A brand or logo distinguishing the goods or services of one trader from another can be registered as a trade mark at IPONZ. You pay a fee to IPONZ when you apply to register a trade mark.

The main requirements for registration are that the trade mark is:

  • described graphically, that is, in words or pictures
  • distinctive (unusual); not something descriptive of the goods or services (because that would prevent other traders using that word)
  • neither misleading nor deceptive
  • inoffensive to any section of the New Zealand community, including Māori.

A trade mark is registered for one or more particular classes of goods or services in New Zealand. Nobody else can use the registered trade mark for trading purposes for goods or services of the same class. If they do, a legal action can be brought against them.

Other traders might register the same trade mark for different kinds of goods and or services. However, trade marks that are considered world famous cannot be registered in New Zealand by another trader for any class of goods.

You are entitled to display the international copyright symbol Â® symbol after a registered trade mark. A registered trade mark never expires so long as it is continuously used by its owner for commercial purposes and a renewal fee is paid to IPONZ every ten years.


Developed for the Technology Online site from a study by Susan Corbett, Louise Starkey and Ann Bondy, Victoria University of Wellington

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