World Intellectual Property Day

World Intellectual Property Day

Are women entrepreneurs doing enough to protect their intellectual property in the FMCG industry?

Women entrepreneurs (WEs) in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry have been particularly innovative in the last couple of years – often out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has helped to break down barriers and pave the way for the future of women in the industry. But not enough WEs are strategically leveraging their Intellectual Property (IP) to drive more revenue growth.  This year’s World Intellectual Property Day (April 26) campaign is an opportunity to shine a light on the need to encourage more women to protect and manage their IP.

Many WEs working in the FMCG space responded to the pandemic by introducing new product innovations that helped them cope with the unprecedented disruption, adapt to competing demands, and build a foundation for future growth.

Globally, it has been shown that female entrepreneurs are less likely than male entrepreneurs to hold any intellectual property rights. And we know that WEs in particular face a number of hurdles when starting up a food or beverage business in New Zealand, particularly when trying to capital raise.

Intangible assets – such as trade marks, patents, copyright and trade secrets, are increasingly determining the company’s value and becoming the most important factor in the company’s competitiveness in the FMCG sector. 

For example, a brand may have been registered as a trade mark in New Zealand – but has that brand/mark been cleared for use and potential registration in overseas markets? If the potential for export is on the cards, then this is better done in the earlier stages before conversations start around potential sales.

Packaging and labelling compliance can also differ drastically between markets – including things like health claims, eco-claims and organic claims. How this is linked to the brand can also form part of its intangible worth.

Or is there something novel in the process of how the product is being produced, manufactured or packaged that could be exploited?

By licensing out brand names, patented products/designs/services, or even backend technologies, to the appropriate licensees, you can obtain a steady revenue stream in terms of royalties. This can allow you to access different geographic areas or markets without forking out huge capital investment, and the licensee bears most risk. It is also possible to licence know-how and trade secrets, which have little if any formal protection.

Protecting intangible assets also has other benefits. It can mean attracting a business loan is more realistic because the level of confidence in such companies is higher.

So perhaps the time is right for our WEs to take a deeper dive into their IP and explore what an effective IP strategy should look like – including the exploitation of the company’s IP assets, as well as actively seeking, evaluating, and engaging in licensing, joint venture, and strategic alliance opportunities where possible.

  • Kaur, G., Modi, P. and Mantok, S., (2023). New product innovations in times of crisis: How did women entrepreneurs survive the COVID-19 crisis?. Industrial Marketing Management.
  • Ray, P. and Karmokar, S., (2022). Facilitating Ethnic Women Entrepreneurship in Aotearoa: The Case Study of WEC. In Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Women After the COVID-19 Pandemic (pp. 217-231). IGI Global.
  • Swail, J., (2021) “Raising Capital In Aotearoa New Zealand: Insights from Women Entrepreneurs”).

By Stephanie Hadley, Associate at James & Wells
For more information contact or visit

Scroll to Top