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Ceri Wells


Ceri is a founding partner of James & Wells, a past president of the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys, an experienced patent and trade mark attorney, and an outspoken champion of innovation.

As an experienced lawyer and patent attorney who has had extended involvement in drafting and prosecuting patent applications, litigation and commercialisation, Ceri is often called on to provide companies with a high level overview of their business from an IP perspective, and develop innovation policies and IP strategies to fit the business objectives of the enterprise.

Ceri has had involvement as a director and shareholder in several start-up companies, and is an entrepreneur at heart. He is responsible for initiating and overseeing the development of James & Wells’ very successful Asia Team which has been adept at facilitating business between New Zealand and Chinese companies, as well as looking after the IP needs of Australasian companies in Asia, and Asian companies in New Zealand and Australia.

He is frequently published in journals, newspapers and magazines where he exposes the problems faced by innovative businesses, calls for change in government policy, and generates discussion on increasing innovation efficiency.

These days much of Ceri’s practice focusses on developing brands and trade mark ownership strategies for clients, clearing trade marks for use, and registering them in New Zealand and worldwide. He advises on trade mark conflict and enforcement issues, with his industry expertise including food and beverage, biotechnology, and agribusiness.

Ceri is listed as a leading lawyer in the 2017 edition of Asia IP Experts and was most recently ranked by World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) as a leader in IP private practice. 

In his spare time, Ceri can be found in the outdoors skiing, golfing, surfing, fishing, scuba diving and boating. These activities, fortunately, offset his passion for good food, cold beer and great wine.

Qualifications and memberships

  • Master of English from The University of Waikato
  • Bachelor of Laws from The University of Auckland
  • Bachelor of Arts from James Cook University
  • Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand
  • Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys (NZIPA) and member of the NZIPA examinations board
  • Member of Licensing Executives Society, Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA), International Trade Mark Association (INTA) and the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada
  • New Zealand representative on the Trade Marks committee of the Asian Patent Attorney Association

Industry specialty

  • Agribusiness
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemical
  • Clean technology
  • Creative/Design/Media
  • Electronics
  • Food and beverage
  • Health technology
  • ICT - software
  • Mechanical
  • Natural products


  • Trade marks
  • Designs
  • Intellectual property strategy
  • Doing business in Asia
  • Copyright
  • Confidential information and trade secrets
  • Fair trading in New Zealand
  • Anti-counterfeiting


Over the last 30 years Ceri has drafted and prosecuted hundreds of patent applications, represented clients in the High Court and Court of Appeal in some of New Zealand’s leading IP cases, specialised in IP commercialisation, and more recently, focussed on trade mark, unfair competition and copyright matters, which now form the bulk of his practice. 

But don't take our word for it

A third party Sport Wanganui was working with, registered a trade mark we considered to be ours.  Ceri employed his considerable experience to devise and implement a practical strategy which resulted in the other party relinquishing the trade mark, without recourse to a formal Hearing or Court proceedings.  It was a great result that was dealt with in both a professional and timely manner, and meant we could continue with the use of the trade mark - business as usual! 

Rachel O'Connor, Events Manager, Wanganui Sports Foundation