Patent and trademark numbers grow

Last updated 14:54 28/02/2013

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Rising awareness among small and medium-sized companies of the need to protect their intellectual property and brands has seen the number of patents and trademarks continue to grow.

Reporting to Parliament, the Commissioner of Patents, Trademarks and Designs said there were 35,853 patents on the New Zealand register at the end of June, a rise of just over 1000 from the previous year.

But despite the overall numbers having jumped, the growth rate has slowed with new patent registration lower than in any of the previous four years.

The number of trademarks on the register has risen to 230,633 from just over 199,000 in June 2008.

Commissioner Neville Harris told Parliament that the rise in businesses seeking to protect their patents, trademarks and designs through official hearings had continued.

In the past financial year there were 246 oppositions to trade mark, design and patent applications, 50 of which resulted in full hearings, compared to just 164 oppositions in the 2007/08 financial year.

Cases last year included a battle between cigarette firms Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BAT) over an attempt by BAT to register a target-like design similar to a design used on Philip Morris' Lucky Strike cigarettes.

In a spat between liquor retailer The Mill and the Scotch Whisky Association over whether The Mill's cheap MacGowans whisky, which is not made in Scotland, was likely to trick drinkers into believing it was Scottish, The Mill won.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) has also taken steps to make it easier for businesses to protect their patents and trademarks.

IPONZ has gone paperless from June last year, with 100 per cent of its applications now electronic.

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