INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

Intellectual property rights are potentially extremely valuable to commercial businesses, but also to not-for-profit entities, and the potential to lose that value is great. There are also risks if a business or a not-for-profit entity fails to respect the intellectual property rights of others. Intellectual property law is complex and poorly understood. While industrial espionage may be uncommon in New Zealand, intellectual property rights should be protected because they: Help establish or maintain a commercial advantage over competitors, Preserve the benefits of investments in new ideas and products and in research and development, Enhance the reputation and goodwill of an entity and its products, Provide a potential basis for revenue through franchising, licences and agencies, and Protect and enhance the interests of others which enjoy the benefits of intellectual property rights “downstream” from the entity holding those rights. Intellectual property rights are protected by Acts of Parliament, but also through “judge-made” law developed by the Courts. Many of the areas of protection overlap, and Court proceedings to protect intellectual property rights commonly involve several areas of the law. There are three broad and sometimes overlapping types of intellectual property rights: Reputation – Protection of a business or not-for-profit through its trading name, trade marks and methods requires protection, primarily through the law relating to Passing Off, the Trade Marks Act, and the Fair Trading Act. Protection of Ideas – Inventive ideas and operational “know-how” are also valuable, and the Patents Act, the Plant Variety Rights Act, and the protection of commercial secrets are particularly relevant. Protection of Designs – The physical expressions of creative ideas are protected under the...