When Katie joined the AJ Park renewals team in 2014, she found her love for intellectual property. For over eight years, Katie has been a key pillar of the team handling the New Zealand and Australia trade mark and all Plant Variety Right (PVR) renewals.
In 2021 she completed her NZLS Legal Executive Diploma and was shoulder tapped to put her training into practice as a Paralegal in the Wellington trade mark team. Fast forward six months, and Katie is getting to grips with her new role and has recently helped with her first client submission.
Before joining AJ Park, Katie completed a Bachelor of French at the Victoria University of Wellington, followed by a year in France, where she taught English and travelled around Europe with her sister.
Katie grew up in Katikati, a town close to Tauranga. She has also spent time in Auckland and now lives in Wellington with her partner. A self-proclaimed creative, Katie has dabbled in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, sewing, and acrobatics throughout her life. She has even performed acrobatics at the Rugby Sevens! Her curiosity has her looking for new challenges, which she is embracing with her new Paralegal role.
What are you most proud of in your role?
It’s been a wonderful nine years at AJ Park.
In 2020, AJ Park merged with Baldwins Intellectual Property and I had the opportunity to be seconded to work at Baldwins during the transition period. Across 2-3 months, I managed approximately 180 renewals which I’m very proud of. It was an intense and challenging (but rewarding) few months of learning Baldwin's processes to minimise client disruption.
After managing Baldwin's renewals, I helped to integrate these clients into AJ Park's systems and processes. I'm incredibly happy with how smoothly it all went!
Tell us about working in the renewals and trade marks team?
Both teams have exposure to clients, which I like. I recently had assignment instructions come direct to me as the client had previously worked with me in the renewals team. It was great to leverage my existing client relationships and positive that they felt comfortable coming directly to me.
In the trade marks team, I'm forced to think more strategically and guide clients through their filing strategy. As a result, there is sometimes more pressure but also more of an opportunity to have input into client outcomes which I enjoy.
As I'm new in the trade mark team, I'm currently challenged to learn new things. It's been fascinating to see how much goes into registering a trade mark. There are also a variety of deadlines which I'm still coming to terms with, and Molly in my team has been a great support in showing me the ropes.
Which clients do you like working with the most?
I like working with all my clients!
In the renewals team, I had very frequent contact with PVR clients like VentureFruit and Plant & Food Research who were great to work with. I would be in their inboxes at least once a month because they have plant variety rights all over the world that need to be renewed every year, rather than every 10 years like trade marks do.
With our trade mark clients, they need to decide what trade marks are kept and which are discontinued. I find this interesting as it provides insight into the client’s priorities and business.
Having this background in trade mark renewals I am already familiar with a lot of our team’s clients. I always enjoy hearing Jonathan greet a client on the phone and thinking to myself ‘oh ‘Kelly’ I bet he’s talking to Spark.
AJ Park has a number of staff perks. Have you made the most of any of them?
My partner, Mark, works Tuesday - Sunday, which means we only get to spend Sundays together. I took the opportunity to work flexible hours for a year, working half days every Monday to spend the afternoon off with him, which was great!
AJ Park also supports staff to lead fundraising initiatives. I experienced this first hand when I put together two teams of five AJ Park staff (once in 2018 and again in 2019) to take part in the Step Up Challenge. This involved climbing the Sky Tower and raising funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
What keeps you busy at the weekend?
Because Mark works on Saturday, I generally use this time to catch up with friends or do some sewing.
My mum is good at sewing, so I draw inspiration from her. However, most of my skills are self-taught. I'm not very patient with following patterns, but I like the challenge of problem-solving and potentially coming up with something unique. I currently have about ten handmade garments in my wardrobe, and I recently made a quilt for my nephew.
On Sunday, Mark and I can be found on the golf course in Miramar, usually battling the wind. I've been playing on and off for six years now and have a handicap of 35, but we mainly play for fun and fresh air. We also love the circus and enjoy practising acrobatics together (which is how we met!).