150 years of patents in New Zealand

Issue 30 – August 2011

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the granting of New Zealand's first patent. New Zealand Patent No. 1 was granted to flax milling business partners, Doctor Arthur Guyon Purchas and mining engineer Captain James Ninnis, for a plant fibre dressing process and leaf stripping machine to manufacture rope and woven fabric.

New Zealand's first patentees were colonial entrepreneurs who leveraged their intellectual property protection to raise capital and gain a competitive edge. Dressed flax fibre sales recorded high prices for fibre produced by the Ninnis and Purchas patented process.

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust celebrated this historic milestone over a Victorian afternoon tea. David Smol, Ministry of Economic Development's Chief Executive, presented a commemorative memento to these two Crown agencies who continue to play a vital role in protecting and preserving New Zealand's valuable cultural and business assets. The memento included pictures of the purpose-built Waitangi Flax Mill, and Letters Patent entry from the New Zealand Patent Registry, Volume 1 deposited at Archives New Zealand.

Read a history of intellectual property in New Zealand on the Intellectual Property Office's website (www.iponz.govt.nz/cms/what-is-ip/history-of-intellectual-property-in-new-zealand).

Summarised from the July 2011 Business Update, Ministry of Economic Development.

Published in business and ICT.