China’s Official Trade Mark Fees Reduced by 50%

As of 1 April 2017, the Chinese Trademark Office has reduced a number of official trade mark fees by 50%. It has done this as part of the Chinese government’s effort to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

The 50% reduction in fees covers:

  • Filing trade mark applications
  • Renewing trade mark registrations
  • Opposing trade mark applications
  • Cancelling trade mark registrations
  • Recording updates to existing owner details on the Register
  • Recording assignments of trade mark rights on the Register

New Zealand brand owners may perceive the fee reductions to be relatively modest, and not particularly advantageous. However, they should be aware that the reduction in fees may incentivise trade mark squatters to file trade mark applications in bad faith, which is an ongoing problem in China. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that China’s trade mark system is based on a ‘first to file’ rather than a ‘first to use’ principle.

We recommend you review your existing trade mark portfolio in China, with a view to filing new applications and/or updating Register details for your existing Chinese trade mark registrations.

We also refer you to a previous Ellis Terry article which contains helpful information about protecting your trade marks in China.

If you are interested, please contact us to discuss how you can protect your trade marks in China in more detail.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information only, and is not legal advice. You should seek advice from your IP professional if you require advice particular to your situation.

Ellis Terry named New Zealand IP Prosecution Firm of the Year at Managing Intellectual Property Awards ceremony

We are delighted to announce that Ellis Terry was awarded the New Zealand Prosecution award for 2017 at the Managing IP Global Awards on 9 March 2017. The Managing IP Global Awards recognise the best Intellectual Property firms in the world.

The annual awards ceremony, which took place at The Savoy in central London, saw over 250 IP professionals celebrate successes and achievements within the international IP world.

Among the accolades this year was Managing IP’s first ever prosecution award for New Zealand, presented to Ellis Terry for its outstanding work in prosecuting patents, trade marks and designs. The increased number of awards for the New Zealand category acknowledges the growing importance of the New Zealand IP landscape.

Ellis Terry partner Blayne Peacock said “we are thrilled to accept this award and the acknowledgement of our clients and colleagues around the world. The team at Ellis Terry has worked tirelessly to help protect and enforce innovation for New Zealand based organisations for many years. This recognition is a testament to the success of our clients in their chosen markets and to the high quality of research and development, and products, coming out of kiwi technopreneurs”.

For more information, please visit:

About Ellis Terry

Ellis Terry has offices in Auckland and Wellington and practices in all aspects of intellectual property law. Established to serve a local and international client base, but with a strong New Zealand client focus, we advise on patents, trade marks, registered designs, copyright, litigation and commercial law. We do more than just protect ideas, creativity and brands. We put the legal issues into their proper commercial context so that intellectual property can be managed just like any other business asset. We think outside the box to help develop successful commercial strategies and to implement them through our network of funders, advisors and businesses.

Ellis Terry offers legal assistance to innovative entrepreneurs and corporations in a range of industries. Creators of artistic works, inventors and designers from diverse specialist fields, including mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, have sought our guidance. Our trade marks team works with clients from a variety of industries, including the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, technology, film and entertainment, insurance, farming and agricultural, building, clothing and textiles, automotive and wine industries.

About Managing IP

Founded in 1990, Managing IP is the leading source of news and analysis on intellectual property developments worldwide.

The annual Managing IP Global Awards are the premier international awards for the intellectual property profession. The awards are based on extensive research and interviews with practitioners worldwide. A team of researchers based in London, Hong Kong and New York contact firms and clients in 75 jurisdictions to ask them for information and feedback.

Managing IP is part of the Euromoney Legal Media Group. Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Protecting the Material World

21 October 2016

Season after season, upmarket designers produce runway looks which are then swiftly replicated and manufactured by more affordable chain stores. This practice – known as fast fashion – fuels the global fashion industry. But while some participants in this copycat economy simply draw inspiration from current styles and trends, there are others who push the boundaries by copying designs outright.

Copied designs can be attractive to consumers who would be reluctant, for instance, to pay $700 for a Self-Portrait dress when they could simply purchase a ‘Self-Portrait style dress’ from for around $30. But for the fashion industry as a whole, these cheap knock-offs can tarnish the exclusivity and desirability of leading brands and take money out of the hands of the talented designers who created the dress in the first place.

This is why Intellectual Property (IP) laws are a critical part of the multibillion-dollar fashion industry. These laws strive to protect the interests of designers, without going so far as to stifle healthy competition. That said, designers still face a number of obstacles when it comes to defending their IP. There is time and cost involved with pursuing infringers every season, as well as reputational issues, including opening themselves up to attacks on social media for ‘bullying’ smaller players.


Copyright is an unregistered IP right which protects original creative works, including clothing designs, for up to 16, or even 25 years, depending on the particular article.

Last year, the New Zealand Court of Appeal upheld a claim by G-Star RAW that Jeanswest had infringed the copyright in their 5602 Elwood Jean. While Jeanswest only made $325 profit from selling its version of the jeans, the Court awarded G Star $50,000 in damages, plus interest and legal fees.

Drawings of the Elwood “Biker” Jean by G-STAR RAW (left) and the Jeanswest “Dean Biker” Jean (right) as used in the G-Star RAW case.

Drawings of the Elwood “Biker” Jean by G-STAR RAW (left) and the Jeanswest “Dean Biker” Jean (right) as used in the G-Star RAW case.

Registered Designs

A registered design can protect the external appearance of a manufactured article for a specified period of time, as long as it is new or original. While it may be impractical and costly for a designer to register every style they produce, a registered design might give valuable exclusivity to special cuts that will feature over a number of seasons, but in different colourways or fabrics. The catch is that the design application must be filed with the Intellectual Property Office before the garment is “published” to the world, so designers are well-advised to plan in advance.

Across the ditch, high profile designer Toni Maticevski recently announced on Instagram that his unique ruffle styles are now protected by Australian Design Registrations. It will be interesting to see if more Australasian designers with stand-out styles will follow suit.

Toni Maticevski

Extracts of Toni Maticevski’s Designs from the Official Australian Design Register

Registered Trade Marks

It is vital for designers to protect their brand names and logos. Consumers rely on branding to differentiate the products and services of one designer from another. They are loyal to brands they enjoy and have grown to trust.

Some designers will go to great lengths to protect their branding from unauthorised use, and rightly so. The exclusivity of designer brands is part of the reason why fashion houses like Chanel can command luxury prices year after year.

Registered trade marks are an especially valuable tool to counteract domain name squatters and similarly-named rivals. Infamous trade mark disputes involving New Zealand designers include RUBY vs Rubi Shoes, and Trelise Cooper vs Tamsin Cooper.

Extract from the New Zealand Trade Mark Register of a Swanndri Trade Mark which was applied for in 1913 and is still registered to this day.

Extract from the New Zealand Trade Mark Register of a Swanndri Trade Mark which was applied for in 1913 and is still registered to this day.

If designers are to thrive in the cut-throat world of the fashion industry, they need to understand how far they can go in looking for inspiration from other designers, as well as how they can safeguard their own livelihood from copycats. Consumers should also be mindful of the creative efforts which have gone into their favourite designs. While that $30 ‘Self Portrait style dress’ may seem tempting, it is this type of mind-set which is derailing the innovations of the fashion world.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information relating to New Zealand only, and is not legal advice. You should seek advice from your IP professional if you require advice particular to your situation.