Creative New Zealand - Money Down The Drain
Creative New Zealand has filed 234 trade mark applications and incurred Intellectual Property Office fees in excess of $23,000, (excluding any legal fees incurred) trying to register, among other things, the words 'Maori Made" and variations of them as a trade mark. Over 40 of the trade mark applications have had to be abandoned.
John Hackett, intellectual property lawyer at A J Park, says he is astounded that Creative New Zealand filed so many applications and at such cost, to register the words "Maori Made". "Any specialist intellectual property lawyer would have been able to advise Creative New Zealand that it would be likely to fail because the words 'Maori Made' are descriptive words."
John Hackett says Creative New Zealand was reportedly trying to develop a Maori trade mark with the words 'Maori Made', in order to stop Maori imagery being ripped off and to allow overseas tourists and New Zealanders to identify authentic indigenous artworks.
"There are some significant issues that Creative New Zealand has not considered in this whole effort to register the words 'Maori Made' as a trade mark."
"If Creative New Zealand was able to register the words 'Maori Made' as a trade mark, that would mean no other Maori iwi or group would be able to use the words without the approval of Creative New Zealand. In our view words like 'Maori Made' would no more be able to be registered as a trade mark than the words 'New Zealand Made."
John Hackett says the whole saga should ring alarm bells within Maoridom. "In total Creative New Zealand has filed 234 trade mark applications at a cost of over $23,000. If Creative New Zealand can waste money on something where they should have got some fairly straightforward advice, it may be that the whole area of intellectual property should be handled by Maori themselves, rather than a Government agency."
John Hackett says there is more to successful trade marks than simply registering a name and logo. "Successful trade marks can become very powerful marketing tools, and while the aim of Creative New Zealand is laudable, the reality is that groups of Maori artists would probably do the job better themselves if they owned and built the brands from the ground up."