By Helen Bellchambers, senior associate at AJ Park, and MedCan Summit 2020 speaker
Companies looking to take advantage of the opportunities created by New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme need to understand how to develop and protect their brands, products, ideas, and other innovations, as the early protection of intellectual property (IP) rights in this rapidly growing worldwide industry is crucial.
There are a number of different types of IP rights available to secure the best protection for medicinal cannabis ventures.
A patent protects a new idea and provides the inventor with the exclusive right to exploit that idea for 20 years. You can patent new products, machines, compositions and processes. Over 50 cannabis-related patent applications have already been filed in New Zealand.
A trade mark is a brand which connects a product or service with its supplier. Trade marks can be registered or unregistered and can include words, colours, logos, shapes, sounds, smells or any combination of these. Currently the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand will only register cannabis-related trade marks for medicinal products or services.
Plant variety rights
A plant variety right generally protects against unauthorised production or sale of propagating material of a plant variety. To be eligible for plant variety right protection, the variety must be:
• new – not commercialised within certain time limits
• distinct – different from existing known varieties
• uniform – all plants of the variety must share the same characteristics, and
• stable – the characteristics must remain the same over successive generations.
A registered design protects the visual appearance of a product. A number of vaporiser devices suitable for use with cannabis oils are protected by registered designs.
A trade secret is any confidential information that has a commercial value and gives a business or individual a commercial advantage over other businesses.
IP rights will form a core part of the commercial value of your businesses, so solidifying an IP strategy early will allow you to understand, manage and capitalise on the IP in your organisation.
AJ Park is committed to helping New Zealand businesses understand and leverage intellectual property. We can provide support, expertise and practical solutions to help ensure innovations in this new and evolving industry are adequately protected. Our team of IP experts includes patent attorneys with industry experience in agribiotech and therapeutic goods, trade mark specialists, and commercial lawyers who are uniquely positioned to offer strategic IP advice.
If you would like more information on IP protection, I will be available during the MedCan 2020 summit to answer any of your IP-related questions.
AJ Park is proud to be a silver sponsor of the inaugural MedCan Summit 2020 and to help the medicinal cannabis sector develop and protect their brands, products, ideas. This is an exciting time for innovation.