If you are the owner of a copyright or trade mark, and have concerns that your brand, logo or work may have been unlawfully copied and applied to goods crossing our borders, you can arrange border protection for your intellectual property.
For a detailed list of trade mark and copyright notices accepted by the New Zealand Customs Service – see Intellectual property rights notices.
Customs has a role in protecting New Zealand from unlawful imports of pirated and counterfeit goods. We administer the border protection measures which are set out in the Trade Marks Act 2002 and the Copyright Act 1994 in respect of intellectual property.
If you consider that your trade mark or copyright work is at risk of being unlawfully copied on goods imported to New Zealand, you can notify us of your intellectual property by lodging a border protection notice under the Trade Marks and/or Copyright Acts.
Under the Copyright Act 1994, copyright protection comes into existence automatically when an original work is created and fixed – so you do not need to register copyright in New Zealand. Original works created in countries who are party to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, are also protected in New Zealand under this Agreement.
If you own the copyright in one or more literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works; or one or more typographical arrangements of a published edition; or one or more sound recordings or films – you or your authorised agent may give notice in writing to us:
The format of a border protection notice, given under s136 of the Copyright Act 1994, can be found in the Schedule of the Copyright (Border Protection) Regulations 1994.
Unless copyright in the work expires earlier, the maximum period for which the notice can be in force is up to five years from the date of the notice.
A trade mark owner seeking protection of their trade mark in New Zealand must first register the trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).
The Trade Marks Act 2002 sets out the protection that is available to trade mark owners in New Zealand.
If you are the registered owner of a trade mark you can file a notice in writing to us:
- claiming that you are the owner of a trade mark that it is registered in respect of the goods specified on the notice; and
- requesting Customs to detain any goods under our control on which an infringing sign is used.
The format of a notice, given under s137 of the Trade Marks Act 2002, is set out in Schedule 2 of the Trade Mark Regulations 2003.
For each notice given under s137, you must also provide a copy of the Intellectual Property (IP) summary report which relates to the trade mark stated on the notice. IP summary reports are downloadable from the IPONZ website.
Unless revoked or discharged by a Court earlier, the maximum period for which the notice can be in force is up to five years from the date of the notice. Notices may thereafter be continually renewed for further periods of up to five years at a time.
Indemnity and security
If you are filing notices with Customs for the first time, you will also be required to lodge a cash security amounting to $5,000.00 at that time. The cash security must also be accompanied by a completed security instrument. The security instrument is a document that contains an indemnity clause allowing Customs to draw upon the cash security, if required, for the purposes of recovering any administrative or legal costs it incurs when enforcing a notice on your behalf.
There are three forms of security instrument available to cater for the type of notices you will be filing with Customs. These are:
- Security under the Trade Marks Act 2002
- Security under the Copyright Act 1994
Dual-purpose security for persons lodging notices under both the Trade Marks and Copyright Acts.
The cash security which Customs holds is placed in an interest-bearing trust account. The cash amount is on-call at all times and may be returned to you at any time should you wish to withdraw the notices that you have in place with us. In such an instance, the principle amount plus any interest which has accrued on the principle amount will be returned to you.
Cash securities are reviewed by Customs every five years, at which time we will forward you the interest which has accrued on the principle amount, and confirm with you if you would like the cash amount to be re-deposited with Customs or returned to you.
Authorisation to act
Intellectual property law can be complex and Customs' role forms just one part of a larger picture. It is recommended that you consult with a patent attorney or law firm specialising in intellectual property law before getting started. If you are using a law firm to act as your agent you will need to supply them with a letter authorising them to act on your behalf in respect of filing border protection notices with us.
Enforcement action by Customs
In cases where Customs intercepts suspected counterfeit or pirated goods at the border – for which a notice has been filed – we will investigate further and determine whether these goods infringe your intellectual property rights. If we consider that to be the case, we will detain the goods and give you 10 working days to initiate Court proceedings against the importer. This period may be extended up to a total of 20 working days if there is good reason to do so.
In cases where an importer concedes that their goods infringe your intellectual property rights, the importer may consent to the goods being surrendered to the Crown.
If, as a trade mark or copyright owner, you choose not to take any Court action, then we are obliged by law to release the detained goods back to the importer.
Steps when lodging notices with us
Complete a border protection notice for each trade mark or copyright work which Customs is being requested to monitor at the border. Attach the appropriate IP Summary report or images of the copyright work.
Complete the appropriate security instrument and provide a cash security of NZ$5,000 in favour of the New Zealand Customs Service.
Provide an authorisation of agent letter which gives the agent the authority to act on behalf of the trade mark/copyright owner when lodging border protection notices with Customs.
Send the completed documents and payment to us either by mail or courier to one of the following addresses:
New Zealand Customs Service
PO Box 29
New Zealand Customs Service
50 Anzac Avenue
If we accept your notice, a summary of your notice details will be published on this website. A confirmation of acceptance letter will be sent to the person filing the notice.
Notices and security instrument template guides
These documents are available to assist you to prepare your IPR notice and security instrument.
Notice s136 Copyright Act 1994 guide
Copyright security instrument
Notice s137 Trade Marks Act 2002 guide
Trade marks security instrument
Dual-purpose security instrument
For all Customs enquiries on intellectual property, contact the Operations Strategy Team in Auckland (see postal addresses above):