Global Giant Unilever lose trademark battle in New Zealand
Unilever, the $86 billion global giant, has had an application for the rights for a trademark in New Zealand rejected. Unilever have recently been in a legal dispute with ASX-listed “McPherson’s Consumer Products”.
Unilever distributes, among many other products, hair care products – such as styling creams, shampoos and waxes, all branded under the name “CATWALK”. However, they did not have the brand name registered as a trademark in New Zealand. So when they heard of McPherson’s application to register the trademark “CATWALK” for types of goods that included corn planes, blackhead removers and decorative headbands, they naturally opposed the application.
Since the application from McPherson’s, Unilever have formed grounds for opposition that predict that the use of the mark by McPherson’s would be likely to deceive or cause confusion to the consumers.
Unilever stated that they had been using the name “Catwalk” for a whole range of products in New Zealand, and around the world, for a number of years and had previously expressed a level of interest in the trademark. However, the Assistant Commissioner of Trade Marks revealed that in actual fact, Unilever had never expressed an awareness of its lack of trademark in New Zealand and so it was unnecessary to consider the consumer goods giant’s grounds for opposition.
This month, Unilever went to the High Court at Auckland hoping to invalidate the assistant commissioner’s discoveries. However, in his decision on the matter, Justice Edwin Wylie found the assistant commissioner was correct in that Unilever had never expressed an interest or attempted to purchase the trademark in New Zealand.