Direct Dial: +64 3 963 1463
Mobile: +64 27 449 8893
Assistant: Michaela Combe
As well as being a lawyer, I am a Registered Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney, and a Registered Australian Trade Mark Attorney. I worked for over 10 years in specialist patent attorney and IP firms before joining the team at Saunders & Co in 2015.
I advise local clients looking to protect and exploit the intangible assets in their business. This may include all aspects of intellectual property, from simple matters, such as protecting a company name, to the complexities of protection of designs, brands, ideas, and inventions through copyright, trademarks, and patents. If disputes arise, I work with clients to pursue commercially realistic solutions.
I also work for international clients looking to protect and maintain their IP rights in New Zealand and Australia, and with our full commercial and litigation teams, offer support in developing their business interests in New Zealand and enforcing their rights here.
Working with our commercial teams, I have experience in licensing intangible assets, and work to cover issues with intangibles that may arise during the sale and purchase of a business, or entering a franchise or distribution agreement. I also undertake civil litigation work in the District Court and High Court, as well as IPONZ hearings.
A key aim is to provide clients with clear communication and regular updates throughout what can be a complex and unfamiliar process.
My technical background is in a BSc(Hons) in Physics and ME(Elec) from the University of Canterbury. My post-graduate work was in the Nanostructure Engineering Science and Technology (NEST) group, focussing on the fabrication and characterisation of wide band-gap semiconductors, particularly Gallium Nitride, which was one of the first materials used to make blue LEDs, and can be used to make UV detectors. I enjoy learning how things work, and identifying and resolving issues.
I specialise in the following areas:
What My Clients Say
“Welhaus engaged Virginia Nichols of Saunders & Co to work on a case where we argued another party couldn’t monopolise a generic name for a process. From the outset, Virginia’s confidence, decisiveness and expertise in the field were evident and she quickly presented us with some good, clear options for moving forward. We appreciated her evidence-based approach, specific knowledge of the subject and willingness to dig deeper into the matter. This greatly helped our decision-making process and resulted in a speedy conclusion, achieved in just a few days. The process even proved inexpensive given Virginia’s efficiency. The experience of dealing with Virginia and Saunders & Co was refreshing and I have no hesitation in recommending them to others.”
Dan Tremewan, Welhaus
“I’d like to take this opportunity to personally recommend Virginia Nichols, currently a Senior Associate with the Christchurch legal firm Saunders & Co. It must be said that Virginia is a unique and special person. She is not only skilled and very capable at her craft – but better still she actually listens to the client, finds out their total requirements and then efficiently moulds their needs into a strong legal format. Importantly she is not afraid to advise her clients where she believes an aspect of their demands may be unreasonable or inappropriate, doing so with caring and a gentle yet firm approach. Virginia sees herself as a regular down to earth individual with a burn to help others and make a difference. She truly does that in spades!”
28 January 2021
Data Privacy Day is “an international effort … to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust”.  It serves as an important reminder to both individuals and agencies who collect personal information.
2 December 2020
The new Privacy Act 2020 (New Act) came into force on 1 December 2020. There are some key changes in the New Act which help to bring New Zealand’s privacy law into the 21st century.
2 July 2020
Franchise agreements are both a popular way for a business to expand into new regions, and a popular way for someone to start owning their own business.
25 November 2019
Don’t get caught without your Music Copyright Licence
Every business, club, or organisation that plays music should be paying a music copyright licence fee.
18 September 2019
A Real Page Turner – a Copyright Question from The Brokenwood Mysteries
Sunday night is time for watching The Brokenwood Mysteries, and among the many tangled threads in the latest episode was the issue of “stealing” the plot for a novel....
8 July 2019
Some people dismiss the idea of getting patent protection for an app or computer programme because they believe there is a blanket prohibition on patents for software.
7 March 2019
A European trademark registration ("EUTM") covers every member state of the European Union. From 29 March 2019, this may no longer include the UK.
21 January 2019
Four interesting changes CPTPP made to NZ Intellectual Property law
The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into force on 30 December 2018.
20 December 2018
Myths of IP – Part 2
Company name registration
Setting up a new company is an exciting time, and one of the fun, yet challenging, parts is coming up with a name.
12 December 2018
Myths of IP – Part 1
The Copyright “10% rule”
Every time you write, draw, photograph, or sculpt, you are creating a copyright work.
12 November 2018
Stopping pirates before breakfast
The recent dispute about Sanitarium Weet-Bix and British Weetabix has received a lot of media attention, but one point that wasn’t widely covered is how the dispute made it to Court at all.
15 June 2018
Kiwi farming innovation shines
The National Agricultural Fieldays is a celebration of New Zealand’s farming success, and it should come as no surprise this includes innovation and invention in agriculture.
14 May 2018
Design Infringer in Hot Water
Registered Designs protect the look and style of a product – its aesthetic value – and can be very useful in industries where an integral part of the brand is how something looks.
28 December 2017
5 tips for making a splash with patent protection
Kiwi firm Zuru made headlines this week for winning ~$18million in a patent infringement action in the US.
21 November 2017
What will they think of next? (October 2017)
Patents provide a 20 year market monopoly in a product or process, which can be a significant commercial advantage.
28 July 2017
GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS REGISTRATION
New Zealand at long last has a Geographical Indications (GI) register – although only for Wines and Spirits.
24 January 2017
Stop Fake Imports at the Border
New Zealand Customs is stopping more counterfeit goods at the border, according to recent media reports: http://www. stuff. co.
13 October 2015
Performers’ Rights in New Zealand
The TPP is expected to introduce a number of changes to New Zealand’s copyright and other IP laws.
16 July 2015
Confidential Information – a lesson from the housing data leak
Barfoot & Thompson recently had to face the media, after one of their employees apparently leaked their sales data.
13 July 2015
The Fruit Worth $247 Billion
The Apple brand is worth US$247billion, according to the 2015 Brandz Report. That is not the value of the company Apple, Inc, but the value of the brand.
13 July 2015
THE SHAPE OF SWEET VICTORY
Do you recognise a Whittaker’s SANTE® bar when you see it? If you do, you know what you are buying.
23 March 2015
FOUR INSIDER TIPS FOR GETTING VALUE FROM YOUR PATENT ATTORNEY
By Virginia Nichols, Senior Associate at Saunders & Co
When it comes to advice about your Intellectual Property (IP), your best qualified advisor is a Registered Patent Attorney.
19 March 2015
MR ZOG'S SEX WAX AND THE POWER OF COMPOSITE TRADE MARKS
One of the most common questions in trade mark cases is whether two trade marks are sufficiently similar that there would be a likelihood of deception or confusion between them....
3 March 2015
Trans-Tasman warning from Jeans Wars
The Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision finding that copyright in the design of a pair of jeans had been infringed.
1 February 2015
Who can challenge a patent application?
Patents provide a 20 year statutory monopoly for new inventions. Applications for patents are examined by IPONZ (part of MoBIE) to check they meet the legal requirements for grant.