Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand

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The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand is the present-day patent office of New Zealand.

Administratively it is a part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (> Market Services > Business Integrity Services). An overview of its legal basis, activities, and organization can be found at It had been part of NZ's Department of Justice from 1883-1995.

IPONZ has a relatively effective and easy to use search interface for historical patents, with bibliographic data and scans of originals. It can be reached through this link and searched using number or title. There is no clear way to save permalinks for bibliographic entries can be saved; but links for PDFs of scanned patents may be relatively stable.

History at the time of early aero

The history of the office dates pretty continuously back to 1870, when it began under the name New Zealand Patent Office. The current IPONZ has a history page from which the details below are drawn.[1]

  • 1860: "The first New Zealand Patents Act was passed allowing the Governor to issue Letters Patent. The patent petitions and associated public notices were administered by the Colonial Secretary."
  • 1861: New Zealand’s first patent was granted and 21 patent petitions were received that year
  • 1870: "The Patents Acts of 1870 effectively established a Patent Office within the Colonial Secretary’s Office."
  • 1882: "The regional court offices became filing facilities for the Patent Office, enabling “same-day” paper document filing."
  • 1883: "The Patent Office came under the control of the Department of Justice."
  • Not known at this moment -- was New Zealand a participant in the Paris accord of 1883?
  • 1884: "The Patents Act of 1883 came into force which formalised the patent application process and Patent Office structure, including the appointment of a Commissioner."
  • "1889: The Patents, Designs and Trade-marks Act of 1889 established the New Zealand registered design system, patent agent register, and introduced ‘International and Intercolonial’ priority filing date claim provisions." -- this suggested that by this time New Zealand had joined the Paris accord
  • 1890: "The first Annual Report from the Patent Office was published. 160 trade mark, 616 patent and 5 design applications were entered onto the IP Registers that year."
  • 1891: "Mr W H Hughes qualified and was registered as New Zealand’s first patent agent. Henry Hughes Limited was established in 1882 and is the oldest firm of patent and trade mark attorneys in New Zealand."
  • 1891: The New Zealand Gazette fortnightly supplement, entirely given over to the business of the Patent Office, began publication.
  • 1906: Richard Pearse's Plane NZ Patent 21475 (above) - photo courtesy of MOTAT -- Patent NZ-1906-21475 -- this reference or number seems to be an error on the IPONZ site ; that patent isn't Pearse's -- econterms has emailed to fix it on 2023-01-24.
  • 1906: NZ Patent No. 21476, titled “An improved aerial or flying machine”, was granted to Richard Pearse for his aerlion invention. In 1943, he later went on to invent and patent an aeroplane-helicopter (NZ Patent No. 87637). Patent NZ-1906-21476 -- This is real! Awesome. Didn't know he'd patented
  • 1911: "Patent examination was widened to include investigating claim novelty and whether the claims were directed to “proper” or patentable subject matter."
  • 1912: "The first Patent Office Journal was published replacing the Gazette supplements."
  • World War I: "Special legislation was passed to enable the Governor in Council to avoid or suspend registering Patents, Trade Marks and Designs from subjects of states at war with New Zealand. The time periods in which to pay fees and for filing documents could be extended, if the applicant could show that they had been prevented from doing so due to circumstances arising from the war."
  • 1922: "The Patent monopoly maximum term was extended from fourteen to sixteen years."


  1. History of IP in New Zealand at IPONZ web site