Local council logo upsets television station

New Zealand

An argument has broken out between a television station and a local city council regarding the latter's new branding.

Triangle Television is a community regional television station which broadcasts primarily to the Auckland area in New Zealand's North Island. The station has used a triangle device as part of its branding for approximately 10 years. On June 6 2007 it applied to register its TRIANGLE TELEVISION logo mark in relation to entertainment, event, education and cultural services in Class 41 of the Nice Classification. Although the application has been accepted and the opposition period has passed, the mark has not yet been registered. However, the registration process should be completed within the next few months.

Auckland City Council recently rolled out its new AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL logo mark. The logo includes a triangle device which bears some similarity to the triangle device of Triangle Television's logo. On September 14 2007 the council applied to register the AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL logo in relation to a wide range of goods and services, including telecommunication services in Class 38 and entertainment, event, education and cultural services in Class 41. At the same time, the council applied to register a triangle device in isolation in relation to the same goods and services.

Presumably as a result of learning of the council's new logo, on November 1 2007 Triangle Television applied to register its triangle device in Classes 9, 38, and 41.

Triangle Television is reportedly concerned that members of the public will be deceived or confused given the similarities between the marks. While there is some similarity between the triangle devices, the use of the words 'Triangle Television' and 'Auckland City Council' will go some way towards helping the public to distinguish the marks; moreover, the council has since advised that it has no intention of using its logo mark without the words 'Auckland City Council'. However, it has been reported that Triangle Television has received calls from the public asking whether the council had entered the regional television market.

It is understood that the parties are now trying to settle the matter, although at the very least any settlement is likely to involve the council agreeing to abandon use and registration of its new logo in respect of entertainment services. Moreover, Triangle Television may insist that the council adopt a new colour scheme for its logo to minimize further any likelihood of confusion.

It remains to be seen how much ground either side is prepared to give in order to reach an amicable settlement, especially since there has been significant public discussion on how much the council spent in developing its new branding.

Carrick Robinson, James & Wells, Auckland

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