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Kate McHaffie

Kate McHaffie


AJ Park Law Limited, Wellington

Kate specialises in intellectual property (IP) litigation. Her particular area of interest is working with pharmaceutical inventions.


Kate joined AJ Park in 1998 and heads the firm's dispute resolution and litigation team, handling contentious matters involving all kinds of IP. She has litigation experience in the areas of patents, trade marks, copyright and registered designs.

In addition to her litigation expertise, Kate is part of AJ Park’s advertising team, which advises on legal advertising code, and industry regulatory requirements for marketing in New Zealand.

The technical nature of her work appeals to Kate’s scientific side, and the variety of clients and subject matter she encounters keeps her intellectually challenged. Committed, practical and inquisitive, Kate thrives in an environment focused on innovation.


Kate’s particular area of interest is pharmaceutical inventions, and she has been involved in patent cases for international corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi-Aventis. She has also acted for clients in the manufacturing and telecommunications industries.

We’re very lucky at AJ Park to act for some of the best companies in the world, big and small, local and overseas-based. Each has their own story and their own drivers, and it’s my job to understand those so I can provide targeted commercial advice. All my clients have a problem that needs to be solved; it’s up to me to relate to them in whatever way is the most helpful.

Kate has represented clients in the High Court and been involved in cases in the Court of Appeal. She also appears before the Commissioner at hearings held in the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand on trade mark and patent matters.

Working style

Kate works hard to understand each client’s business and their goal so she can advise on the best way to achieve that, whether by litigation or an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

Competence and professionalism are a given in any successful working relationship. Beyond this, what’s critical is trust. Regardless of their size, location or issue, our clients need to know they can trust me to care about their matter and give it my full focus.

Kate is passionate about supporting and encouraging women in the patent attorney profession to progress and succeed. Underpinning everything she does is the desire to truly make a difference.


In 2019, Kate was listed in the 2019 IP Stars list of leading IP practitioners in New Zealand. Kate was also named by Managing Intellectual Property (MIP) as one of the Top 250 Women in IP 2019. This special list recognises the leading female IP practitioners in private practice who have performed exceptionally for their clients and firms in the past year. Kate is one of only three New Zealand women recognised in this year’s Top 250 Women in IP, which is a testament to her outstanding work and global reputation in IP litigation and dispute resolution.

Kate also featured in the 2019 IAM Patent 1000 – The World’s Leading Patent Professionals, and was described as ‘enhancing the litigation prowess of the firm’ and 'having a gift for understanding the most complex pharmaceutical inventions’.

In 2018, she was highlighted in the IAM Patent 1000 for bringing 'complex Trans-Tasman disputes to efficient conclusions' and having 'substantial experience litigating for global healthcare, manufacturing and telecoms operations'.

In 2017, the IAM Patent 1000 described Kate as 'extremely professional'. Quoting independent referees, the guide’s commentary included this about Kate: 'Having an enviable track record serving pharmaceutical titans in critical patent suits; she wins plaudits for her bedside manner and is 'a pleasure to deal with'.'


  • LLB (Hons), Victoria University (1997)
  • BSc (Hons), Victoria University (1997)
  • Admitted as a Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand
  • Admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia
  • Registered Patent Attorney (New Zealand & Australia)