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Maori Haka Can Not Be Trademarked

Intellectual property law specialist, John Hackett, says it is impossible for Wellington's Ngati Toa iwi to trademark Te Rauparaha's haka - the haka performed by the All Blacks.

Ngati Toa are claiming ownership of the haka, which iwi members say was written by their ancestor Te Rauparaha while hiding from pursuers.

John Hackett, intellectual property lawyer of A J Park, says that trademarks can only be taken out for the purpose of distinguishing a product or a service in the course of trade.

"The haka is not used to distinguish a product or service in the course of trade. A product that can be trademarked, is something like SHELL branded petrol. Petrol is petrol, the only difference being the company selling it, which is why they brand themselves and trademark the brand to promote their different products or services from the competition."

"The haka would be classified as a song or a chant or a challenge, rather than a trademark. As such it comes under the Copyright Act."

John Hackett said it was unlikely that copyright would apply to the original haka either as copyright only exists for 50 years after the death of the original author.

John Hackett said that if the iwi developed a new and original haka, then that would be protected by copyright.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Catherine Beard Principal, Comsar Communications, Tel (04) 389 0544, Mob (021) 633 212 John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, Tel (04) DDI (09) 356 3310, Mob (021) 473 827


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