TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT

Client Care Policy and
Terms of Engagement

Introduction

 

Our Client Care Policy and Terms of Engagement sets out who we are and information about our relationship with clients.  We explain what you can expect of us and how we operate when providing advice and assistance to you.  

 

The terms below are the terms covering your engagement of us.  Unless we agree otherwise, these terms apply when you engage us to work for you.  Your continuing to instruct us means that you agree to these terms unless we agree to vary them.  You do not need to sign any formal documentation indicating your continued acceptance.

 

We welcome your feedback on aspects of these terms.

 

Who we are

 

Catalyst Intellectual Property is the trading name for the patent attorney partnership Catalyst Intellectual Property Patent Attorneys and the incorporated law firm Catalyst Intellectual Property Law Limited.  All partners of Catalyst Intellectual Property Patent Attorneys are registered patent attorneys.  Some of the partners of Catalyst Intellectual Property Patent Attorneys are also lawyers and directors of Catalyst Intellectual Property Law Limited. 

 

Our patent attorneys are registered to practice before the patent offices of both New Zealand and Australia (the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand and IP Australia), or have qualified to practice before a patent office elsewhere, such as the European Patent Office. We are members of the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia.

 

Our lawyers are Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand and are members of the New Zealand Law Society.

 

We provide a full range of patent attorney and intellectual property legal services.  The patent attorneys engaged in your work will have appropriate competency to perform the work, including by drawing on technical expertise where relevant.  Information about the expertise of our patent attorneys can be found at www.catalystip.co.nz.

 

Our patent attorneys and lawyers are experienced practitioners and together have many years of practice working with clients in a wide range of technology fields and industry sectors.  Our combined experience includes:

 

  • Practice in other patent attorney and law firms in New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, including at partner and director level.

  • In-house patent attorney experience in large multinational corporations.

  • University IP management and commercialisation.

 

Our Work for You

 

As patent attorneys and lawyers, we will represent and advise you in all aspects of intellectual property law within the scope of your instructions.

 

We will act upon your instructions with all reasonable care, skill and diligence.  You agree to provide us with clear and timely instructions, and use reasonable endeavours to help us perform our services including by providing information and clarifying instructions when requested by us.

 

Our advice will be given solely for your benefit.  If you wish any other party to rely on our advice, we must first agree in writing.

 

We will provide our services in a timely manner.  We will always endeavour to obtain your instructions before any action on your behalf is taken.  If we are required to take urgent action to protect your interests, such as to avoid any loss of rights, and we are unable to receive your instructions in a timely manner, we may take such action without your instructions and you agree to pay our fees and costs.

 

Confidentiality

 

Client confidentiality is highly important to us.  We will not disclose any confidential information obtained from you about you or your commercial affairs to any other party, unless necessary to carry out your instructions, or we first obtain your agreement, or we are required to do so by law.

 

We will only use your confidential information to assist with the work we do for you, to inform you of issues that may affect you, or to obtain credit information or references before acting for you.

 

Under the Privacy Act 2020, you have the right to see the personal information about you that we hold.

 

Fees

 

Our fee structure is based on a flexible model.  The model is designed to give certainty of costs to you and to ensure there is flexibility to allow tailoring of fee charges to suit your wishes.

 

We do not charge for services on a strict time-based model.  You need not be concerned about being charged for every short phone call you make or email you send.  Equally, we do not charge on a simple “value billing” model, meaning that we do not base our services charges solely on our own assessment of how important the outcome of our assistance may be to you even though we may have spent little time on the matter.

 

Our charges are based on a number of factors, only one of which is the time spent.  The following is an indicative list:

 

  • Complexity of the work.

  • Level of expertise and knowledge required.

  • Time taken to complete the work.

  • Experience and reputation of those undertaking the work.

  • Importance of the work to your business.

  • Degree of risk and liability associated with the work.

  • Costs of internal systems and procedures to ensure safety and security of your information and files.

  • Degree of urgency required.

 

For most work we do for you, we will record the time spent and by whom.  This will give a preliminary indication of our fee.  Allowance is then made for other factors.  Sometimes our final fee for the work undertaken will be more than a simple hourly rate and time calculation, and other times it will be less.

 

Our fee may include office services such as copying, scanning, telephone calls, and mail charges.  Our invoices may also include other charges:

 

  • Disbursements including official fees, travel and accommodation costs, fees of overseas patent attorneys or lawyers, and barristers’ fees.  These fees are passed on to you as the same amounts charged to us.

  • GST as applicable to our New Zealand clients.

 

We generally invoice monthly for on-going work, at any time when a significant action is taken, and upon completion of the work.

 

We may require that you pay to us a deposit in advance of us undertaking work on your behalf, particularly where we know that significant disbursement costs are expected, for example from overseas patent attorneys or lawyers.  The deposit will be held for you on trust, and we will take that deposit as partial or full payment when we invoice you for the work.

 

Please make sure that you pay our invoices on time.  The due date for payment is indicated on our invoices.  We may charge interest of 1.5 % per month, calculated daily, on any amounts not paid by the due date.  We may also charge you for the costs of collection and any associated legal fees.

 

If you have any concerns about an invoice, please let us know promptly.  We are entitled to keep your files or documents until invoices have been paid, and we may be forced to stop acting for you.

 

At all times, we will endeavour to provide cost estimates to you prior to any work being initiated.  An important axiom we work to is “no invoice surprises for our clients”.  In other words, you will generally know well in advance of us undertaking work what the cost of that work is likely to be.

 

We find that for simplicity and efficiency, there are some aspects of the services that we provide that are best dealt with on a fixed fee basis.  For example, we charge a fixed fee for filing a patent application or a registered design application.  Please request our schedule of fees if you wish further information about fixed fees for specified actions.

 

Our flexible fee structure model also allows us to agree special arrangements with clients.  We welcome discussions about special fee arrangement models.

 

We recognise the importance of a non-traditional and flexible approach to charging for professional services. 

 

Conflicts of Interest

 

Having regard to the relatively small size of the New Zealand market, we may on occasion be asked to act for clients who have conflicting legal or commercial interests.

 

If we consider that we would have a conflict of interest in acting for you, we may decline your instructions.

 

If a legal conflict of interest arises between your interests and the interests of another client, we will inform you immediately.

 

Communication

 

We will communicate with you in the manner you prefer.  Unless otherwise agreed, we will communicate with you on most occasions by electronic means. 

 

We will not accept responsibility or be held liable for damage or loss caused in connection with corruption of an electronic communication.  If you have doubts about the authenticity of any electronic communication, please contact us immediately.

 

Please notify us immediately if there is any change to your contact details so that we can be sure that communications reach you.

 

Files

 

We will maintain files of the work we do for you, which may comprise both paper records and electronic records. 

 

We will retain your files for at least seven years after completion of our work for you.  You agree that we may then destroy, delete or otherwise dispose of the files.

 

Complaints

 

Please inform us immediately if you are not happy about any of our services.  We want to do what we can to resolve any problem. 

 

If you have a complaint, please talk first to the person in our firm handling your matter.  If you prefer, please contact Greg Lynch (+64 4 550 2395 or greg.lynch@catalystip.co.nz).

 

If you are not satisfied with how we have responded to your complaint, you may make a formal complaint to the Trans-Tasman IP Attorneys Board (www.ttipattorney.gov.au).

 

The New Zealand Law Society (www.lawsociety.org.nz) operates the Lawyers Complaints Service and you are able to make a complaint to that service.  To do so, phone 0800 261 801 and you will be connected to the nearest Complaints Service Office, which can provide information and advice about making a complaint.

 

New Zealand Law Society Client Care and Service

 

The New Zealand Law Society client care and service information is set out below.

 

Whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:

 

  • Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received and arrangements made.

  • Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.

  • Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.

  • Provide you with information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.

  • Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.

  • Give you clear information and advice.

  • Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.

  • Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.

  • Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.

  • Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

 

The obligations lawyers owe to clients are described in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.  Those obligations are subject to other overriding duties, including duties to the courts and to the justice system.

 

If you have any questions, please visit www.lawsociety.org.nz or call 0800 261 801.

 

Code of Conduct for Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys

 

We operate according to the Code of Conduct for Trans-Tasman Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys 2018.    The Code of Conduct applies to registered patent attorneys and trade marks attorneys in Australia and New Zealand.

 

The Code of Conduct governs the professional conduct of registered patent attorneys and trade marks attorneys including in relation to:

 

  • Core obligations (acting in the best interests of clients, the public and the profession).

  • Responsibility (for their own work, acts and defaults).

  • Integrity (must not act in a way that is fraudulent, deceitful or knowingly misleading, and must maintain standards of practice that are courteous, ethical and well-informed).

  • Competency (appropriate for the work undertaken, and carried out with due skill and care).

  • Diligence (work carried out in a timely manner).

  • Communication (in writing of certain matters).

  • Disclosure (all information materially relevant to the work undertaken).

  • Confidentiality (no unauthorised use or disclosure of confidential information of client or former client).

  • Loyalty (to clients and former clients).

  • Conflicts (avoidance of conflicts of interest).

  • Independence (of registered attorneys who are members of an ownership group).

 

Information about the Code of Conduct can be found at www.ttipattorney.gov.au.

 

Termination

 

You may terminate our engagement at any time. 

 

We may terminate the engagement only after giving you reasonable notice, and only for good reasons which may include instructions that require us to breach any professional obligation or your inability or failure to pay agreed fees or reasonable fees.

 

You must pay all fees for work done and any expenses incurred up to the date of termination.

 

Insurance

 

We hold professional indemnity insurance that exceeds the minimum standards specified by the New Zealand Law Society.  Please let us know if you would like information on these minimum standards.  This insurance provides cover for any claim that may be made against us for professional negligence.

 

We also hold a range of other insurances which together help safeguard your interests including the security of your files and information and our ability to continue working with you if we cannot access our offices in the event of a natural disaster.

 

Lawyers Fidelity Fund

 

The New Zealand Law Society maintains the Lawyers Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers.  The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000.  Except in certain circumstances specified in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, the Fidelity Fund does not cover a client for any loss relating to money that a lawyer is instructed to invest on behalf of the client.

 

Governing Law

 

These terms are governed by the laws of New Zealand and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts.