The New Zealand Institute
of Patent Attorneys, Inc
NZIPA Member Benefits
Since registration as a patent attorney does not require membership of the NZIPA we are sometimes asked why an individual should become a member. Implicit in this question is what happens to your membership fees.
The NZIPA was founded almost 100 years ago as a body to protect and promote the interests of its members - registered patent attorneys or those in training to become registered patent attorneys.
Our broad objectives are as follows:
- To maintain a representative group of registered patent attorneys in New Zealand.
- To promote the interests of Fellows of the Institute.
- To assist in developing, promoting and maintaining the integrity of the laws and regulations relating to intellectual property matters.
- To preserve and maintain the integrity and status of the patent attorney profession by inter alia setting and administering Rules and a Code of Professional Conduct.
- To provide means for the settlement of professional differences between Members of the Institute, and between members of the public and Members of the Institute.
- To arrange and promote opportunities for the acquisition and diffusion of knowledge relating to the patent attorney profession.
- To do such things as are in the opinion of Council conducive to the attainment of any of the foregoing objects or in the best interests of the patent attorney profession.
But what do these things mean in practice?
The last decade has been one of rapid change in the IP field. First, trans-Tasman mutual recognition under the TTMRA and then implementation of the trans-Tasman patent attorney regime has meant increased competition with our Australian counterparts.
Similarly we have seen a large volume of new legislation affecting our members - from the long awaited Patents Act, to changes to the Copyright Act to address breaches via ISPs and changes to the Trade Marks Act to give effect to overseas treaties like the Madrid Protocol - through to more esoteric issues like the threat to the way we conducted our business due to income sharing prohibitions under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act.
One of our key roles is to provide a voice for members of the Institute, to ensure that such changes are both workable and fair. To do this we need to be ahead of the issues and in a position to make written and oral submissions on issue papers, proposals and draft legislation and before Select Committees (often at short notice). Understandably, this is a significant volume of work, the majority of which is carried out by Council Members on a voluntary non-paid basis.
However, to provide a more effective voice Council will from time to time engage external consultants (such as QCs to provide legal opinions and assist with drafting of submissions / amendments to proposed legislation, or PR agencies to make sure our submissions are heard by the right people). Your fees pay for these engagements.
One of the significant advantages of our profession is its relatively small size. Institute events provide an intimate forum to meet with other professionals and related organisations (such as MED and IPONZ).
The Institute encourages communication between members, allowing them to exchange professional ideas and knowledge on patents, trade marks and copyright issues, and to gather and disseminate professional knowledge through such events as:
· Annual drinks with IPONZ,
· Social functions in Wellington and Auckland,
· An annual golf weekend, and
· An annual AGM (involving business sessions and dinner).
All of these events are subsidised by the Institute to make attendance affordable for Members.
Education and Accreditation
The Institute is intimately involved in the setting and running of the examinations towards qualification as a registered patent attorney. The President, Vice President and immediate past-President all hold positions on the NZIPA examination board. The official fees charged to sit these examinations are a fraction of the cost of setting and running them, however the Institute's contribution is regarded as essential to maintain exceptional standards of professional knowledge. Your fees help to subsidise this process.
To further this education we consistently provide education sessions at our annual conference as well as speakers for education initiatives put on by other organisations (such as the NZLS and IPSANZ).
One of our most important functions has been to frame and maintain a code of conduct for Members. This ensures that the public and other Members can have confidence in dealing with a Member of the NZIPA.
We also provide an impartial forum for complaints to be reviewed and determined.
For the media NZIPA provides an independent, one-stop location for information and comment on intellectual property, on the Institute itself, issues relating to international patents and trade marks and the effects of free trade agreements on New Zealand intellectual property.