The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has recently released a report which identified key trends and challenges for the manufacturing sector (that report can be accessed here). The key trends and challenges identified included that:

  • an increasing number of companies are relying on external services at each production stage to increase the range of their product offering; and
  • manufacturing is moving into “Industry 4.0”, meaning that the sector will become increasingly digitalised and automated requiring higher-skilled talent to operate it systems.

Tips for the manufacturer

While the manufacturing landscape may be changing, the continued development of products and processes (i.e. your intellectual property (“IP”)) emphasise the need for you to have in place strong agreements with third parties. It is crucial that these agreements appropriately protect and govern the use of IP which you have developed over time, while also setting clear boundaries around the use and disclosure of your IP. Further, where you are working with a third party to develop/manufacture a new product, you will need to ensure you have in place a strong agreement protecting each party’s background IP along with clear licences for the use and exploitation of any IP jointly developed as part of the project. It will also be important, where the parties are from different countries, to provide for the jurisdiction and courts which should govern any dispute arising between the parties.

First published in the BNZBA quarterly newsletter June 2018.