About Henry Hughes

The name Henry Hughes refers to Henry Hughes IP, a firm of registered Trade Mark and Patent Attorneys, and Henry Hughes Law, a firm of barristers and solicitors specialising in intellectual property law. The name also refers to Mr. Henry Hughes, the founder of our firm and "the pioneer in the profession" in New Zealand. Henry Hughes is the trading name of Henry Hughes IP Limited, a privately owned limited liability company registered in New Zealand and regulated by the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board.

For details of the qualifications and status of any of our principals or staff please check the individual's profile.

Henry Hughes IP

This year the firm Henry Hughes IP celebrates its 140th anniversary, having been established in 1882 by Mr. Henry Hughes, a steam engine inventor.  We are proud to be the first firm of patent and trade mark attorneys in New Zealand.

Amongst the firm’s early clients was Richard Pearse, the inventor of a flying machine in which, it is claimed, Pearse achieved the world’s first powered flight in March 1903 – some nine months before the Wright brothers. In 1906, New Zealand Patent No. 21476 was granted to Pearse, a Temuka farmer, for “an improved aerial or flying machine”, describing the first known ailerons (moveable flaps on the wings). Pearse later invented (but did not fly) a “convertiplane”, with a tilting engine to allow for vertical take-off and landing and was granted New Zealand Patent No. 87637. His many other unpatented inventions included a motorcycle, recording machine, potato planter, top dresser and two sorts of music box.

From these humble beginnings, the present firm has developed. We have experienced and well qualified principals and staff, with a considerable range of qualifications. We aim to provide to client's prompt, excellent and cost-effective services and solutions. While expanding to meet our client needs, we have not forgotten our roots and provide a personal touch to our services and interactions with clients. All work is carried out by our principals or under their direct and close supervision. We recognise, as a fundamental goal, the need to develop and further the interests of our clients. We are independent and take conflicts seriously.

We are proud to have among our clients a diverse range of multinational and New Zealand companies including, pharmaceutical, electronic, food, and clothing companies as well as clients in the entertainment industry.

For over a hundred years Henry Hughes has provided quality service as a boutique firm. We look forward with enthusiasm to continuing and developing this tradition in the future.

Henry Hughes IP Limited is registered as an Incorporated Patent Attorney under the Patents Act 1990 (Cth). Henry Hughes is the trading name of Henry Hughes IP Limited, a privately owned limited liability company registered in New Zealand and regulated by the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board.

Henry Hughes Law Ltd

In 1991, the law firm Henry Hughes & Co. was set up to handle the increasing volume of litigation, copyright and licensing work. This firm is now Henry Hughes Law Ltd. With the presence of this associated law firm, we offer a full range of litigation services covering all aspects of intellectual property law and practice. Clients who have utilised the services of the law firm have found it both efficient and cost-effective.

The firm has been active and successful at the High Court and Court of Appeal levels with notable successes in patent and trade mark cases. A landmark case was the success in the early 1990's in which the use of a protruding tab located on the structural seam of a patch pocket on jeans was found to infringe a trade mark owned by Levi Strauss & Co.

The firm represented four of the successful plaintiffs in the judicial review proceedings that resulted in the New Zealand Court of Appeal's finding that Swiss-type claims are allowable in New Zealand.


David Moore LLB, BA

Barrister and Solicitor, New Zealand; Enrolled barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia
Main areas of practice: Trade Marks, Copyright, Licensing, Fair Trading Act, Passing Off
d.moore@henryhughes.com | More about David

Elena Szentiványi LLB

Registered Patent Attorney (New Zealand and Australia), Registered Trade Mark Attorney (Australia), Barrister and Solicitor
Main areas of practice: Trade Marks, Copyright, Fair Trading Act, Passing Off
e-mail: elena@henryhughes.com | More about Elena

Who is Henry Hughes?

Henry Hughes c December 1893

Henry Hughes circa 1893.

Henry Hughes (born London 12 June 1833 – died Wellington, New Zealand 4 June 1896) was educated at University College, London, where he received certificates of honour in civil engineering and architecture.

His practical training began at a mechanical engineering works where he specialised in steam locomotives and steam trains. The Hughes steam engine can still be seen in museums in the United Kingdom. This led to an involvement in the construction of the SS Great Eastern – the largest ship ever built at the time of her launch in 1858 – and a short spell assembling machines for the great International Exhibition held in London in 1862.

Throughout this time, Henry Hughes was also busy creating his own inventions and protecting those inventions through the patent system. One of his inventions was a means for the disposal of smoke from locomotives. A patent was granted for the invention in 1864 and was the subject of litigation involving infringement of the patent. It was experiences such as this which would later prove invaluable.

By 1866, Henry Hughes had set up an engineering works in Loughborough, Leicestershire, England. The works specialized in steam locomotives and tram engines and met the needs of expanding British railway companies.

In the 1870s, Henry Hughes emigrated to Wellington, New Zealand with his family, aboard the Koranui. He continued his work in railway engineering in the Hutt Valley and then in Nelson, before returning to Wellington.

With an interest in and an understanding of patents, gained through the experience of protecting his own inventions in the United Kingdom and his involvement in litigation to enforce at least one of his patents, Henry Hughes was ideally qualified to meet the growing need for a patent specialist in New Zealand.

Thus, in 1882, Henry Hughes commenced practice as New Zealand's first patent attorney.  On 26 February 1890 Henry was the first person in New Zealand to be registered as a Patent Agent under section 126 of the Patent, Designs, and Trade Marks Act, 1889.

Adopting his new profession did not curtail Henry Hughes' inventive activities and in 1883 (at a cost of 10 shillings) he was granted New Zealand Patent No. 949 for a novel steam injector.

Henry was a hard working man with a twinkle in his eye, as shown by this interview of him that was published in "Fair Play" on 9 December 1893.

Mr. Hughes advertised his services widely in the regional newspapers and as well as the Wellington head office there were branch office of his firm in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. Mr. Hughes' pamphlet, “Advice to Inventors” was in much demand, and contained valuable and interesting information to inventors and patentees.

A short historical outline of the Patent Attorney profession, as read at the New Zealand Institute annual dinner in 1952, shows how all the early Patent Attorney practices in New Zealand can trace a connection with Mr. Henry Hughes - "the pioneer in the profession".

Our Brand

We are proud that our firm can trace its heritage back to the very beginning of the profession in New Zealand. Our name is important to us and an integral part of our brand.

We have chosen the hexagon as a shape which represents who we are, what we do and many aspects of our work with our clients.

The congruent sides and interior angles of the hexagon make for a visually pleasing shape, a shape which has certain valuable properties such as strength, stability, economy and efficiency.

The hexagon can be recognized in many of the industries we work with. This shape will be familiar to chemists and materials scientists as representing one of the fundamental building blocks of pharmaceuticals, as well as the basic unit of graphene, a material used in many nanoscale technologies, as well as the semiconductor and electronics industries. In the food and beverage industry, the hexagon appears in honeycombs, and this strong and efficient packing arrangement is also used to pack products for shipping. In the mechanical and construction industry, the hexagon is put to work in the humble nut and bolt, in tiling applications, and providing lightweight strength in composite materials. In the life sciences the hexagon can also be found in the shape of flowers, snowflakes and the pattern on the turtle’s shell to name a few.

The six sides of the hexagon represent six key areas of intellectual property: patents, trade marks, designs, copyright, plant variety/breeders rights and domain names. Each of these rights is its own legal speciality, but the interlinking between, represented by the internal lines, is crucial to an overall IP strategy.

Last but not least, the initials of Henry Hughes, the founder of our firm, are represented in the intersecting lines of our logo. We are very proud of our reputation first established in 1883, and continued by our comprehensive service to our clients in the 21st century.

Community Involvement

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much"
Helen Keller

Our commitment to our wider community includes providing access to justice working with qualifying organisations on a pro bono basis, awarding prizes, mentoring, volunteering and contributing to professional development activities within the profession.

Pro Bono

We all know of many organisations in our community doing great work supporting others. We recognise that we can support these inspiring not for profits, social enterprises and charities to protect and enforce their valuable IP by providing our services at a reduced cost or without charge.

Organisations we have worked with include:

Pūkare Cards

Lazy Sneakers
The Shift Foundation
Wā Collective National Council for Women
Gender Equal NZ
New Zealand Aged Care Association
Alzheimers New Zealand
YWCA (Wellington)
The Independence Collective
SPCA (Wellington)
GoodWeave International
Medecins Sans Frontieres International
 Every Bite NZ

Acceptance of instructions on a pro bono basis is at our discretion. To qualify, the organisation must meet our pro bono requirements, which include:

  • The cause must genuinely be one for the public good; and
  • The scope of the work must be within the firm's area of expertise in the intellectual property field.

We reserve the right to withdraw if circumstances change.

Where the firm accepts instructions, we can offer reduced fees arrangements or no charge, dependent on the circumstances. It will be expected that in all cases you are responsible for any official or filing fees.

Supporting students

Creativity is all around us and we like to do our bit to foster creativity and young talent with the Henry Hughes IP award at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Design.

Since 2014 Henry Hughes IP have sponsored prizes at the School's end-of-year exhibition. In 2020 we presented a prize for a project in Masters of Design Innovation.

Our contribution to the profession and the community in other ways includes:

  • running an ongoing paid intern programme;
  • membership of committees of professional associations;
  • mentoring, including participation in the participation in Victoria University of Wellington's Alumni as Mentors programme;
  • contributing to continuing legal education through presenting at seminars and conferences.

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