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A Stone Age Knowledge Wave?

A Stone Age Knowledge Wave?

Thursday 21 Nov 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Commerce

Tonight's debate of the Trade Marks Bill under urgency will focus New Zealand again on stoneage superstition, says ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks.

"Rational New Zealanders despairing at taniwha under the bridge and wahi tapu land seizures will have another gripe by late tomorrow morning.

"Labour has touted this bill as modernisation of New Zealand's intellectual property law but now they are sneaking it through in the dark. They are in a hurry because the landmark provisions are new rights for Maori to demand cancellation of any trade mark they claim causes "cultural offence".

"The Government's provisions set no standards, give no definitions, and include no requirements to compensate the owner of a trade mark, however inoffensive it may have been up till now.

"ACT has opposed this from the very beginning and I will move replacement clauses for cultural offence that will not discriminate on the grounds of race, or otherwise", Mr Franks said.


Thursday 21 November 2002

Trade Marks Bill

Cultural Offence

Proposed amendments

Stephen Franks, in Committee, to move the following amendments:

Clause 17 Absolute grounds for not registering trade mark

To replace sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subclause (1), as follows:

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"(ii) the Commissioner considers, on reasonable grounds, that its use will cause grave cultural offence to a majority of the rational members of any section of the community comprising a substantial number of New Zealanders sharing the relevant culture, where:

(A) the use is not already familiar outside New Zealand; and

(B) the offence is not primarily or in substantial effect a novel or unjustified assertion of exclusive right to use or control use of the trade mark or part of the trade mark."

Clause 178 Advisory committee

To amend the clause proposed as clause 178 by SOP 29, so that it reads as follows:

"178 Function of advisory committee

The function of the advisory committee is to advise the Commissioner on the factors material to any decision under section 17(1)(b)(ii), and in particular the degree, prevalence and rationality of any cultural offence likely to be caused by the proposed use or registration of a trade mark that is, or appears to be, derivative of a sign, text or imagery derived from a particular cultural institution, characteristic or attribute, and the costs to the community if the application is denied."

Explanatory note

This amendment has one principal goal and three objectives.

The goal is to protect as a taonga of our common Enlightenment heritage, law which is secular and objective, applying equally to all without bias or favour on the grounds of race, religion, rank or inherited status.

The three objectives are: * To ensure that the Commissioner retains a discretion that is equivalent to the longstanding barrier to scandalous and immoral trade marks, otherwise removed by this Bill. * To ensure that the discretion is seen to be that of the Commissioner, not the Advisory Committee he or she is directed to appoint.

· To ensure that cultural offence does not become a basis for extortion as "cultural redress" by threats such as those which recently drove LEGO away from the use of Maori words.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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