This chapter was written by AJ Park, a leading provider of intellectual property services.
Taking your ideas to the world
Exporting presents a huge opportunity for growth, providing access to new and potentially more lucrative markets around the world.
If your product or service is based on intellectual property (IP) that has taken time and money to develop, it is important to protect it, both in New Zealand and abroad. If it is carefully protected, it can form a powerful barrier to competitors, but if it is stolen or disclosed without your permission, your entire business may be put at risk.
Even though a new business may protect its IP in New Zealand as a matter of course, this provides little protection beyond our shores. International protocols mean it may be possible to protect and enforce your IP rights with many of New Zealand’s trading partners, but unless you have protected your IP in that specific country, you could be left without recourse.
Even if you’re not intending to export straight away, having overseas IP protection for your invention, design and/or brand helps preserve your ability to do so in the future. This may also open licensing opportunities if you decide to export the IP rather than the product itself.
Remember that you should also make sure that you are able to release your product or service in the countries of interest to you. If you are unable to obtain protection, it is possible that someone else may have done so already. The key factor is to understand the IP landscape and risks that exist, not only at home, where you manufacture your goods, but also wherever you aspire to sell in the future.
Understanding the risks and developing an IP strategy for expansion will put you on the best path possible for business success.
What is IP?
IP is the legal right to protect ideas and inventions that are unique to a business. In effect, IP is the property of the mind or proprietary knowledge. These rights ensure you get the full economic benefit from developing your distinctive brands, ideas or products. Your IP can be a totally new concept or invention, an innovative design, a distinctive brand, or a combination of all three.
Whatever form your IP takes, it is one of your most important business assets – it is what differentiates you from your competitors, and even though it is an intangible asset, it has tangible value. Therefore, it makes sense to protect this valuable asset from being used by other individuals or businesses.
Benefits of IP to your business
Establishing IP protection for your brand or logo in relation to goods and services is important for a variety of reasons. It can:
• Establish a right to, and ownership of, your original ideas so you can profit from them;
• Prevent competitors from copying or closely imitating your products or services;
• Protect the distinct identity, image, and reputation of your business; and
• Build customer trust and loyalty by establishing an identifiable brand name or reputation.
IP is rising
Worldwide filings for patents, trade marks, and industrial designs are reaching record heights. Innovators around the world filed 3.3 million patent applications in 2020, up 1.6 percent from 2019.
Trade mark applications also rose by 13.7 percent in 2020 to approximately 17.2 million, and worldwide industrial design applications reached 1.4 million. This growth was primarily driven by growth in China.
AJ Park is a leading provider of intellectual property services in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region. With offices in Auckland and Wellington, we have one of the largest, most experienced teams of IP experts in the area.