Sistema's Kiwi-made designs, the paragon of plastic food storage, has been keeping food fresh in school bags, pantries and lunchroom fridges for the past 30 years, and the privately owned company holds an 80 percent share of New Zealand's food storage market.
Sistema general manager Glenn Beattie says it's the New Zealand-made print on the bottom that makes all the difference.
'One of our major selling points overseas is that our products are made in New Zealand,' Beattie says. 'This means they're perceived as safer than, say, plastic products made in China.'
Today Sistema exports to 25 countries and occupies 44 percent of the Australian market. With its IP lurking in kitchen cupboards worldwide, Sistema has a strong need for intellectual property protection.
'We protect our products globally,' Beattie says. 'For example, the uniqueness of the [touch-free sipper] bottle top is patented almost worldwide.'
That's where AJ Park fits in - it has been identifying, protecting, commercialising and enforcing Sistema's unique IP rights since the late 1990s. Partner Kim McLeod says he recognises managing director Brendan Lindsay for his passion for New Zealand and his business, beginning in his garage as a backyard investor selling recycled coat hangers.
Today McLeod and his team work with Sistema across the whole gamut of IP rights, covering patent protection for their innovation, registered design protection and in particular, trade mark protection.
'We help them protect their brands and innovation internationally,' says McLeod. 'We also take action to prevent people from copying their products.'
In fact AJ Park and Sistema met through court action.
'Originally we took action against Sistema for another company,' explains McLeod. 'We made quite an impression with Lindsay, and he decided he'd rather have us on his side than working against him. That's really the best kind of referral you can get.'
Beattie says today he sees the manufacturer's relationship with AJ Park as a partnership.
In fact, if you ask him what the firm does for his business, his response is a clear vote of trust: 'We just give everything to Kim and together we work out what to do.'
The long-running partnership has resulted in Sistema putting full confidence in McLeod and the AJ Park team. These days, one of AJ Park's associates is on a part-time secondment at Sistema, which McLeod describes as 'AJ Park's satellite office at Sistema'.
Between the secondment and McLeod's regular contact, the partners liaise with Sistema's R&D team to discuss their latest innovations and what is required to protect it.
It's important to have the right arsenal of IP rights to stop counterfeiting, and AJ Park makes sure Sistema does.- Glenn Beattie, Sistema
Written by Vanessa Ellingham, this case study was featured in #40 of Idealog. Photo courtesy of Tony Nyberg.