Protecting Your IP In The Pacific Islands

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One of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in the Pacific is Cook Islands.  It’s simply Paradise!

Crystal clear waters, lovely local smiles the peacefulness and tranquility of it all made this particular visit a truly memorable one. 

I stayed there for about a week. No work, no intellectual property – just absorbing the wonderful surroundings and of course enjoying the Rarotongan hospitality. 

One of the attractions I highly recommend you visit if you do ever find yourself in Raro is a place called Te Vara Nui village. 

It’s a live “over the water” show, showcasing Cook Island dancing at its best.  A stage in the middle of man-made water features surrounded by luscious gardens sets for what is expected to be an  exhilarating performance. The performance will take you to the edge of your seats, but do remember to restrain yourself or you too will create an unlikely “under the water” performance.

Anyway, on my return back to work (it wasn’t really something I looked forward to, I can tell you that) a client was interested in registering its trade marks in a number of countries in the Pacific Islands.  Cook Islands was also on the list too.  I checked with a colleague in Rarotonga and was informed that it’s not possible to register trade marks there.  There is no such thing as a trade mark registration in Cooks Islands. 

So how do IP holders protect their brands in Paradise?

The only way you can protect your brand in Rarotonga is by arranging what is commonly known as a “Cautionary Notice”.  A legal representative there can arrange the notice which I think is published in the local paper.

A few decades ago, trade mark registrations were enforced.  This was largely due to the fact that New Zealand trade mark law applied to a certain extent in Rarotonga.  I believe that is now not the case.

One of the unique things I noticed while there is that much of the place remains untouched.  There is so much tourism potential and fortunately it has a sense of authenticity where it is not overly commercialized with big brands here, there and everywhere.

The cautionary notice mentioned above seems to be for the “big” companies perhaps because of the cost involved.

If you’re ever considering protecting your brands in the Pacific, we here at Vai IP can help register your brands.  The countries we can help you with are as follows:

  • Papua New Guinea
  • Fiji
  • Solomon Islands
  • Vanuatu
  • Tonga
  • Samoa
  • Cook Islands (for cautionary notices)

We have very reliable local agents there many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for over a decade!

If you ever receive an “Out of Office” reply from me for more than a week, it’s likely you’ll find me here at The Rarotongan Beach Resort.

Drop me an email at if you have any queries.

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