Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Knauf fails to get Fletcher use of Batts trade mark revoked

Knauf fails to get Fletcher’s use of Batts trade mark revoked in ‘bendy, bulgy’ insulation case

By Tina Morrison

May 13 (BusinessDesk) - Knauf, the German building materials company, failed to get Fletcher Building’s use of the “Batts” trade mark for building insulation thrown out on the grounds that it is a common name in general public use.

In a 113-page High Court judgement, Justice Brendan Brown refused a request to revoke the trade mark, although he limited Fletcher’s claim of infringement of the trade mark to the use of “Batt” in the HTML code on the www.earthwool.co.nz website which sold Knauf insulation, and said the use of the word in the installation instructions on the packaging didn’t infringe trade mark.

“There is clearly a not insignificant degree of use of the words “batt” and “batts” to describe insulation in a generic, non-proprietary sense,” Justice Brown said. “However, collectively this evidence is not of a quantity or a quality to cause me to be satisfied that the trade mark has become a common name in general public use for pieces of fibrous insulation.”

Separately, Justice Brown ruled that Knauf’s insulation product Earthwool contravened the Fair Trading Act, in the use and marketing of the name, and that in future it must be accompanied by the words “glasswool” or “glass insulation” in the same font and print size. Fletcher had argued that marketing of Earthwool was misleading because it conveyed the impression it was made from the wool of sheep or other animals when it was not.

Auckland-based Fletcher, New Zealand’s largest publicly listed company, is facing increasing competition from Knauf, which has about $1.9 billion in annual insulation sales worldwide compared to Fletcher’s $1.3 billion of total building product sales which also includes plasterboard, aluminium doors and windows, and roofing. In February, Fletcher said the local insulation market remained competitive as price declines offset volume gains.

The High Court case shows intense rivalry between the companies in New Zealand, where an estimated 15 million square metres of insulation products are sold every year, most of it made from glass. Fletcher’s subsidiary Tasman Insulation makes more than 7 million square metres of insulation from recycled glass a year, sold under the Pink Batts brand.

Knauf exported some of its Earthwool insulation to New Zealand in 2011, with packaging displaying the words “batt” and “batts” in the installation instructions, with sparked the litigation. Fletcher protested the use of its trade mark word “Batts”, with Knauf subsequently claiming the word had become generic to describe insulation, although it later agreed to stop using the word.

In November 2011, Knauf filed to revoke the “Batts” trademark and in December, Fletcher started trademark infringement proceedings against Knauf and websites marketing its product.

In 2012, the two companies stepped up their competitive marketing campaigns, with Knauf saying its product was driving competitors “batty” and Fletcher responding in a presentation to trade customers about the durability of its rival’s product, claiming it was less stiff, “susceptible to slumping” and showing photographs of how bendy the rival product was.

Knauf claimed in an advertisement that the competitor was trying to discredit its product by saying the insulation was “bendy, slumpy, bulgy and bursty” and an associated promotion required customers to enter the code “TASMAN-BS”.

Fletcher’s Tasman unit objected, saying it hadn’t released any statement to discredit its rival using those words. Justice Brown said that although Fletcher had described the Knauf product as “slumpy” and “bendy” in presentations to its New Zealand trade audience, the reference to the product being prone to “bursting” was made by Fletcher Insulation in Australia and hadn’t been presented in New Zealand.

Justice Brown therefore concluded that Knauf’s inclusion of the words “bulgy and bursty” contravened the Fair Trading Act.

The court found Fletcher was itself in breach of the Fair Trading Act when it undertook “Titanic test” demonstrations to builders in which it submerged Pink Batts and Earthwool in water to show the Earthwool product sank first.

Knauf argued that the testing of buoyancy and water absorption were not relevant to the fitness of the product’s use as intended and appeared designed to communicate the existence of a problem which doesn’t exist. As part of the demonstration, Fletcher required that its product be removed from the water before it also sank.

Justice Brown ordered inquiries for damages and asked the parties to file memoranda as to costs.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Media: Fairfax Moves To Create Modern Newsroom

Fairfax Media New Zealand continues its newsroom transformation this week, with a proposal to further organise its editorial operations into focused, local teams and specialist national topic areas. More>>

ALSO:

Dairy: Fonterra Forecast For 2015/16 Season

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season to $4.40 per kgMS. Along with its previously announced forecast dividend range of 20-30 cents per share, the change amounts to a forecast ... More>>

ALSO:

BusinessDesk: SkyCity Lifts Minimum Convention Centre Investment To $430M

SkyCity Entertainment Group, the casino operator, has lifted the minimum it will invest in the Auckland International Convention Centre to $430 million and said total costs including land may be $450 million to $470 million. More>>

Statistics: Drop In Dairy Prices Leads Fall In Exports

Total goods exports fell $240 million (5.5 percent) to $4.2 billion in April 2015 compared with April 2014, Statistics New Zealand said today. More>>

BusinessDesk: APN's NZME Sees Future In Paywalls, Growth In Digital Sales

APN News & Media has touted a single newsroom concept for its NZME unit in New Zealand, similar to what Germany's Die Welt uses, saying an 'integrated sales proposition' is helping it win market share, including ... More>>

Labour Party: Global Milk Prices Now Lowest In 6 Years

The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices ... More>>


BusinessDesk: NZ Inflation Expectations Creep Higher In June Survey

May 19 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand businesses lifted their expectations for inflation over the next two years, sapping any immediate pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates, and prompting the kiwi dollar to jump higher. More>>

BusinessDesk: Lower Fuel Costs Drive Down NZ Producer Input, Output Prices

May 19 - Producer input and output prices fell in the first quarter, mainly reflecting lower fuel costs and weakness in prices of meat and dairy products. More>>

Media: Fairfax Media NZ Announces Senior Editorial Team

Fairfax Media New Zealand has today confirmed its new editorial leadership team, as part of a transformation of its newsrooms aimed at enhancing local and national journalism across digital and print. More>>

Science: Flavonoids Reduce Cold And Cough Risk

Flavonoids reduce cold and cough risk Research from the University of Auckland shows eating flavonoids – found in green tea, apples, blueberries, cocoa, red wine and onions – can significantly reduce the risk of catching colds and coughs. The research, ... More>>

BusinessDesk: RBNZ House Alert Speech The Catalyst For Government Action

Prime Minister John Key all but conceded that pressure from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand for concerted action on rampant Auckland house prices was one of the main catalysts for the government's weekend announcements about tightly ... More>>

BusinessDesk: How To Fall Foul Of The New Housing Tax Rules: Tips From IRD

Just because you rented out your investment property doesn't absolve you from paying tax, says the Inland Revenue Department in a summary of commonly made mistakes by non-professional property investors when it comes to their tax liability.More>>

Legal: Superdiversity Law, Policy And Business Stocktake Announced

Mai Chen, Managing Partner at Chen Palmer New Zealand Public and Employment Law Specialists and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, today announced the establishment ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news