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Thursday, December 15, 2005


Other Unions: Nobody owns the silver fern

Original Source: NZPA

The New Zealand Rugby Union has been knocked back in a bid to trademark the silver fern for exclusive use in All Blacks merchandise.

In an intellectual property rights row that has dragged on for four years, the NZRFU wanted to trademark "a black rugby jersey, or casual shirt made in the style of a rugby jersey, bearing a fern and with a white collar".

But 12 clothing manufacturers around the country joined forces to argue that the fern belongs to all New Zealanders and should not be restricted to the union and the All Blacks, an Auckland newspaper reported today.

In a judgment released yesterday, assistant commissioner of trademarks Jennie Walden said the fern was "very broad in scope and had a low level of inherent distinctiveness".

"Accordingly, the mark is not registrable," she ruled in a written decision.

The NZRFU registered a trademark on the words "All Blacks" and on its own stylised silver fern in 1991.

A key argument in this application was whether any fern and black jersey were a symbol of the All Blacks.

The Intellectual Property Office accepted that the opponents - who mainly manufacture jerseys for the tourist trade - had made significant sales of rugby jerseys in the style the union was seeking to protect both before and after the application date in June 2001.

Auckland barrister Alex McDonald, who represented the opponents, said an important aspect of the decision involved a recognition that the motives of the manufacturers were not "questionable".

"Quite the reverse, in fact, as the Intellectual Property Office asked why, if the Rugby Union considered that the opponents had acted improperly, it had not taken steps against those traders for breach of the Fair Trading Act," she said.

Union deputy chief executive Steve Tew said the bid was aimed at one "constant area of misunderstanding".

"We know people that buy jerseys are mistaken into thinking they're buying a genuine article when they're not, and off a company that don't have the intellectual property rights to the genuine article, and who are not returning the benefit from the purchase back into the game, which is what we do."

Neil Crawford, managing director of Crawford Souvenirs, one of the opponents, said the trademark application "forced us to act to defend a national symbol on a black jersey for future generations, and not be ring-fenced for the commercial benefit of one organisation".

Terry Wilson, company director of Seabreeze Fashions, another of the opponents, said the Rugby Union was entitled to use its own-style fern and the word "All Blacks".

"But the fern belongs to all of us so I thought it was a pretty rude application," he said. "It's a victory for common sense."

Mr Wilson said his company would have suffered job losses if it was no longer allowed to sell silver fern-tagged garments to tourists.

Mr Tew said last night he was disappointed with the ruling.

"Frankly we find some of the trading offers done around our intellectual property to be rude and against common sense.

"We'll continue to watch very closely and ensure the rights we already have in place are not infringed. And if they are, we will act."


Hmm. What does one say of this?

Is this a case of firms making money out of an emblem that was without a doubt made famous by generations of rugby players - without the NZRFU making a cent?

As far as I know, you need to be licensed by Saru to use the Springbok emblem, which effectively gives them ownership.
Boertjie why do you think the logo had to change?

The other one was already part of the public domain- but we are opening olde issues now.
E#xactly OO

The fern is a tradional sign of peace to the native Kiwis.

When two tribes meet each other for the first time, the home tribe will perform a war dance and offer a fern to the other visitor. If the visitors accept then it is a sign that they come in peace. If not...then the kak spats...

They're not as tough as what our Zulus were though. They use these huge "botter spane" as things to moer you dead with, whereas the Zulus used their stabbing Assegaais.

However, the Zulus didn't eat their opponents they beat...

I digress. The fern is an ingrained symbol of New Zealand proper, along with the Kiwi bird. Also, you're going to be hardpressed to prove the uniqueness of a plain black jersey with a white collar....
I still believe that if someone had the gumption to seriously challenge the SARU trademarking of the Bok symbol, they'd be VERY hardpressed to prove that they created it and that it is unique to them.  
Funny how there haven't been any calls to change the symbol in recent times....  
Speaking of calling for things to happen. Davids, I making a call for you to change your picture. It is torture for me and I'm willing to go to the constitutional court over this.  
Het Aldo- you like my pic?  
O hel OO

Lyk my ons gaan Konstitusionele Hof toe gesleep word vir Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Miskies het hy 'n punt.

Aldo gee my een van Bryan Habana in sy LIONS trui laas jaar op Nuweland wat sy drie(e) druk terwyl Dewet Barry, Jean De Villiers and Marius Joubert verdwaas aankyk dan sal ek dit met plesier verruil
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