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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 extensive 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.

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. 

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. 

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.

Ceri is listed as a leading lawyer in the 2017 edition of Asia IP Experts and was most recently ranked by World Trademark Review as a leading practitioner in prosecution and strategy, with judges commenting "The firm was founded by patent and trademark ace Ceri Wells, an incisive brand strategist who is equally comfortable advising behind the scenes as he is on the frontlines of enforcement. “Efficient and easy to work with, Ceri has extensive knowledge of trademarks and never fails to come up with solutions. His international trademark expertise is also essential."

But don't take our word for it

"Ceri Wells of James & Wells is our trusted partner in protecting our trademark portfolio in New Zealand.  Ceri "understand the needs and finances of our business and provides strategic, consistent services."

 Donna W. Sandidge, IP Consultant, Red.com

“James & Wells has helped AsureQuality with formulating IP strategies that best fits our extensive portfolio of brands and marks for the markets we operate in. Their knowledgeable and capable team  has helped us simplify trademarking complexities and the customer centric approach means we can better focus on serving our customers.”

“Johnathan and Ceri has taken great care in understanding our multi-faceted business and their tailored approach to form a trademarking solution means we invest strategically to ensure optimum IP protection for us and our stakeholders.”

Ted Chen, Associate Brand Manager, AsureQuality

"James & Wells have been providing Gallagher Group Limited with great service,  looking after its intellectual property protection needs for over 30 years"

"Ceri Wells is highly knowledgeable and effective in the trade mark field and always finds solutions to our trade mark problems as required. We trust our entire trade mark portfolio with him and his team."

"JAWS support all our patent drafting and filing strategies and IP litigation work. They take the time to understand our business requirements and satisfy them exceptionally well." 

Richard Johnston,  Intellectual Property Manager, Gallagher Group