Press Release – Zone IP
PRESS RELEASE Zone IP (The Zone Corporation) 26 January 2012 So-called immoral trademarks getting easier to achieve in NZ, but still high risk An Australian snack maker marketing its Nucking Futs product to pubs and nightclubs across the Tasman, is unlikely to …PRESS RELEASE
Zone IP (The Zone Corporation)
26 January 2012
So-called immoral trademarks getting easier to achieve in NZ, but still high risk
An Australian snack maker marketing its Nucking Futs product to pubs and nightclubs across the Tasman, is unlikely to struggle with registering its trademark in New Zealand – but trademarks that tread a fine moral line remain high risk here.
Intellectual property expert, Theodore Doucas of Zone IP, an intellectual property consultancy in Wellington, says that current trademark legislation in New Zealand makes decisions around marginal moral issues very subjective.
“Some trademarks that have already been approved in New Zealand include FCUK, CNUT and WNAK, but the legislation is not in favour of trademarks that are likely to offend a segment, or significant section, of the community – the problem arises in deciding what the current moral norms are.
“In making a decision, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is also likely to examine what the overseas precedent is,” he said.
The Queensland snack maker recently had its trademark application accepted for Nucking Futs by the Australian Trade Marks Registry, IP Australia, on condition the company only markets in pubs and nightclubs and does not market to children.
“Any company considering registering a trademark that may be morally offensive, even marginally, should consider their target market very carefully. You wouldn’t want to offend potential customers.
“I think the Australian company has been very clever. We know that controversy can be used to launch a brand, and they have had significant coverage.
“The key though is to be original and creative without being crass.
“Nucking Futs is a really good play on words and it’s original. It’s easy for people to chuckle about it – can you imagine a drunk person trying to ask for Nucking Futs over the pub counter?”
Mr Doucas said that New Zealand decisions did tend to adopt a slightly higher moral ground than the United Kingdom or Australia, but in recent years had become more lenient as society’s view shifts.
“In New Zealand it is also important to consider whether the trademark offends a section of the community. For example, IPONZ has a Maori advisory committee, which advises them on the offensiveness of Maori trademarks.”
About Zone IP
ZONE IP is an intellectual property consultancy providing authoritative advice in trademarks, copyright and branding. ZONE IP is headed by a former Assistant Commissioner of Patents, Trade Marks and Designs of the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).