IPONZ issues updates to Trade Mark practice guidelines

Article  \  3 Nov 2023

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has now published its updated Trade Mark practice guidelines, which contain direction on the classification of non-fungible tokens, virtual goods, and virtual services.

Previous guidance from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Korean IP Office (KIPO), as covered in our earlier article, helped set out a practical approach to the classification of these goods and services.

However, the updated Trade Mark practice guidelines helps to provide clarity on IPONZ’s approach to these issues. The new guidance applies immediately. A similar approach will also likely be adopted by IP Australia.

The new guidelines confirm the following:

Non-fungible tokens

A non-fungible token (NFT) is used to certify the ownership and authenticity of goods or services. An NFT is not considered a good or a service in itself; rather, it authenticates a good or a service.

Goods authenticated by non-fungible tokens

Where specification of goods includes the unqualified wording "non-fungible tokens [NFTs]", "downloadable non-fungible tokens [NFTs]" and the like, examiners will object that the term is unclear. The applicant will be asked for a clearer description which specifies the goods that the NFTs authenticate.

Virtual goods

Virtual goods are digital items used in online virtual environments. Virtual goods are classified in class 9 because the goods consist essentially of downloadable data.

Where a specification includes the unqualified wording "virtual goods", "downloadable goods", "digital goods", and the like, examiners will object that the term is unclear, and the applicant will be asked to describe the virtual goods more precisely.

For further advice on the application of the guidelines, please reach out to one of our talented group of trade mark experts.

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