New Zealand

A highly developed economy and a thriving start-up community are driving innovation in New Zealand – and with it demand for patent services. In 2016 New Zealand withdrew from proposals for a single patent application and examination process with Australia; however, a trans-Tasman patent attorney regime came into force in early 2017. Both countries’ patent attorneys are now registered under a joint registration regime and existing registered individuals have automatically become trans-Tasman registered attorneys. Although commentators are hopeful that this will lead to reduced costs and improved efficiency in the long run, others are worried that higher technical requirements and the associated education fees will diminish the pool of available talent, especially for smaller firms with fewer resources.

Firms: litigation and transactions

1
AJ Park
2
Baldwins
Ellis Terry
James & Wells
Simpson Grierson

Firms: prosecution

Highly recommended
98
AJ Park
Recommended
H
Baldwins
Catalyst Intellectual Property
CreateIP
Ellis Terry
Henry Hughes IP
In-Legal Ltd
James & Wells
AJ Park
Australasian IP powerhouse AJ Park sits comfortably at the zenith of the patent market and has developed a lofty reputation on both sides of the Tasman Sea. It celebrated its 125th year anniversary in 2016 and continues to go from strength to strength. Working out of two broad industry groups – chemicals and technology – the 44-strong squad makes light work of even the most exacting demands of patent owners in any sector. Together, Matt Adams and Michael Brown co-chair the engineering and IT division. The former shines on the registration, protection and licensing of all software and computer-related patents; while the latter has a knack for enforcing industrial design and patent rights both locally and abroad. Brown is a dab hand in the manufacturing sector, as is Anton Blijlevens. A boon to the vibrant start-up scene, Blijlevens also spearheads the firm’s dedicated China team. Meanwhile, Anton Gibson is the first port of call for pharmaceutical mandates: he heads the life sciences crew in Auckland and is hailed for his business-minded counsel and savvy portfolio management skills. A former president of the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys (NZIPA) and a regular speaker in the IP field, Greg West-Walker’s piercing insight into the market and strategic advice are highly sought after. Kim McLeod and Kate McHaffie front the firm’s enforcement efforts. McLeod boasts a wealth of commercial litigation experience and is a safe pair of hands for any multi-jurisdictional dispute. The “extremely professional” McHaffie has an enviable track record serving pharmaceutical titans in critical patent suits; she wins plaudits for her bedside manner and is “a pleasure to deal with”.
Baldwins
With a sizeable domestic presence and vast international expertise, Baldwins is a prime pick for patent holders looking to navigate the global market. As testament to its versatile, cross-border prosecution capabilities, it serves three of the country’s top four Patent Cooperation Treaty filers. Its standing among local innovators is also nothing to sneeze at and domestic mandates have lately been flourishing, especially in the mechanical and electrical domains. These sectors fall under the purview of IAM Patent 1000 debutant Chris Way. His pragmatic, personalised approach to problems has earned him the loyalty of many key clients, including the country’s largest medical device manufacturer. Fellow prosecution dynamo Wes Jones is a refined draftsman with a masterful grasp of all things electronic. Captaining the chemical and biochemical groups, Tim Jackson has a flair for complex litigation and is a familiar presence in New Zealand’s highest courts. Dispute resolution head Paul Johns specialises at nipping potential infringements in the bud; his holistic understanding of intellectual property also takes in consumer and advertising laws.
Catalyst Intellectual Property
Catalyst Intellectual Property’s relatively young age belies the deep reservoir of experience it has on tap. Its close-knit team of seasoned veterans – who have held esteemed positions in private practice, in-house and in government – is characterised by uncompromising drive and passion; unfettered by old customs, it adopts a forward-thinking, outward-looking perspective that is focused on the endgame for clients. Although capable across the technical spectrum, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals are particular fortes. Greg Lynch is a name to bear in mind for those seeking assistance.
CreateIP
In operation since 2009, CreateIP is a refreshing option for clients and a firm that challenges conventional lines of thinking. The fast-growing outfit devises bespoke solutions that are tailored to the needs of its diverse clientele and invests considerable time and effort building rapport and understanding with patent holders. Consequently, the innovative unit enjoys an impeccable client retention rate and a consistently steady flow of instructions. For example, leading New Zealand leisure provider AJ Hackett Bungy recently consolidated all of its IP work with the firm after the two developed a fruitful relationship. Founding partner Robert Snoep takes responsibility for this: the engineering ace spares no effort in ensuring that patent owners of all stripes can extract maximum value from their assets.
Ellis Terry
“Ellis Terry handles matters extremely promptly and smoothly, and at very reasonable rates.” Already a “model of efficiency”, it has lately invested heavily in its internal infrastructure, which has made its lightning-fast turnaround times quicker than ever. “Adept in both patent prosecution and litigation”, the esteemed set has an intricate understanding of the Australasian market. John Terry and Blayne Peacock head the Wellington and Auckland patent teams respectively. “Terry is practical, approachable, bright and easy to work with.” “He is simply a great guy who does great work.” A qualified patent attorney in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, Peacock is “incredibly astute from both legal and commercial perspectives. His thinking is incredibly strategic and goes well beyond his years.”
Henry Hughes IP
Henry Hughes merges over 130 years of legal and technical rigour with a dynamic, forward-facing outlook. This, along with its all-encompassing industry expertise, makes it a draw for top-brass global patent owners. In particular, it strikes a chord with rights holders in the life sciences and mechanical industries. Frank Callus directs the savvy ensemble with verve. With over three decades’ experience at the coalface, and having held a number of prestigious positions – such as presidency of the New Zealand Intellectual Property Association (NZIPA) – he has acquired rare cachet in this field.
In-Legal Ltd
Compact boutique In-Legal often finds itself on the receiving end of effusive praise: “Its communications are concise and clear. It displays both initiative and creativity when dealing with IP issues and its timely advice is cost effective.” “It is a client-friendly firm that inspires confidence with its relevant and pragmatic guidance.” Most of this praise can be attributed to Jane Calvert and Julie Ballance: “They are highly qualified and keen to assist, and take a genuine interest in your goals. They respond rapidly, deal with matters personally and focus on achieving your desired end results.” Calvert holds a PhD in organic chemistry and utilises her prior in-house experience to spectacular effect; life sciences authority Ballance has held a myriad of enviable positions in both local and international IP communities over a glittering career spanning 25-plus years.
James & Wells
“A well-established player, James & Wells possesses a strong commercial presence in both Auckland and Hamilton.” The prolific filer drafts an immense number of New Zealand’s patent applications; however, this never comes at the expense of quality. The bustling boutique also continues to expand its sights in Asia and in the last year has enjoyed an influx of inbound instructions from the region. Its proficiency at handling IP disputes is another claim to fame. Ian Finch spearheads the litigation division. His résumé is chock-full of impressive achievements, including serving as the immediate past president of the NZIPA; he also generously shares his knowledge as the general editor of a leading IP tome. Another contentious sharpshooter, Gus Hazel carries similar clout: he recently tackled the first cases in Australia under the Raising the Bar Act – Australia’s largest overhaul of the IP system in two decades.
Simpson Grierson
Corporate outfit Simpson Grierson excels at juggling sophisticated IP litigation and commercialisation briefs. One of the only full-service firms with a team of dedicated IP law experts, it has played a pivotal role in a number of landmark litigations. Most recently, it has been acting for Emtelle in a patent infringement case that is set to become the country’s largest infringement suit in over a decade. This job has been overseen by Earl Gray. A dexterous enforcer of patent rights, he is also au fait with trademarks, copyright and designs, and is a perennial favourite of high-octane rights holders across the globe. Gray co-chairs the IP practice with life sciences buff Richard Watts, a staunch ally of heavyweight pharmaceutical companies. Last year, his game-changing commercialisation strategies were put to good use for The a2 Milk Company, which has experienced skyrocketing growth thanks in no small part to Watts’ sage prosecution and enforcement counsel.

Individuals: prosecution

Matt Adams - AJ Park
Julie Ballance - In-Legal Ltd
Anton Blijlevens - AJ Park
Michael Brown - AJ Park
Frank Callus - Henry Hughes IP
Jane Calvert - In-Legal Ltd
Anton Gibson - AJ Park
Tim Jackson - Baldwins
Wes Jones - Baldwins
Blayne Peacock - Ellis Terry
Robert Snoep - CreateIP
John Terry - Ellis Terry
Chris Way - Baldwins
Greg West-Walker - AJ Park

Individuals: litigation

Ian Finch - James & Wells
Earl Gray - Simpson Grierson
Gus Hazel - James & Wells
Tim Jackson - Baldwins
Paul Johns - Baldwins
Kate McHaffie - AJ Park
Kim McLeod - AJ Park
Richard Watts - Simpson Grierson
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Issue 85