Patent Law Advice – Clear Your Name Before Serving Your Food – Advice For Food Service Operators – AJ Parks IP Law

<a href= NZ IP Law Jobs Here Registering a trade mark for the name of your food service business has become more important than ever before.

The media has covered several disputes recently over the trading names for restaurants, cafés and bars.

One story involves the owners of a hotel and wine bar down in Otago trading under the name JAFA’S. The owners of JAFA’S were surprised to read a review in the Sunday papers given to Jafa Café in trendy Grey Lynn, Auckland. The Otago business owners had registered a trade mark for JAFA’S in 2005 covering bar, restaurant and café services.

The upshot is that the Grey Lynn café is now looking for a new name, and has asked its patrons for suggestions.

Because of another battle, an Auckland food and cake producer has changed its name. The owners had been using the name Brown Sugar for their business blissfully unaware of a well-known restaurant and café business in Taihape trading as Brown Sugar Café since 1997.

The Taihape business registered a trade mark for BROWN SUGAR in 2001 for preparing and making food. The business activities of the Auckland food and cake makers infringed this trade mark registration so they have now decided to change their name.

Another similar situation has seen a court battle between the Blenheim owners of a 2003 trade mark registration for LIVING ROOM and a trendy bar in Auckland trading under the name of The Living Room.

The Blenheim owners of the trade mark registration for LIVING ROOM had their concerns aroused when they heard that a “fusion organic bar and eatery” in Ponsonby had won an award for Best New Bar 2007 in the NZ Bar Awards.

They asked the Ponsonby restaurant to stop using its registered trade mark, but were refused. High Court proceedings were brought by the registered trade mark owners, and this case is still under dispute at the time of writing.

And finally, here’s a scenario which could develop into an intriguing “watch this space” story. The iconic Oliver’s Hotel and Restaurant in Clyde, Central Otago, has been sold to a local farming family, the Bickleys.

The Bickleys are looking at restoring Oliver’s to its former glory, first as a hotel, and then possibly as a restaurant. The writer’s ears pricked up when the Bickleys said they may rename the hotel Janie Olivers, after their daughter, Janie.

Any use of Janie Olivers is likely to raise the attention of well-known UK chef Jamie Oliver, and more than likely, an objection based on his New Zealand trade mark registrations. Let’s hope the comment made by the Bickleys in the Otago Daily Times back in February 2008 was tongue in cheek!

These real life cases highlight the need to register trade marks for food service businesses such as restaurants, cafés and bars.

A trade mark registration will give you the exclusive right to use your trade mark throughout New Zealand even if you are only trading in one small town. But if you use a name in a particular location without registering a trade mark, you will only have the right to use the name in that particular location.

So, if you run a restaurant in Dunedin for many years, you will find it very difficult to stop another restaurant subsequently opening in another part of the country using your restaurant name.

On the other hand, if you register your Dunedin restaurant name as a trade mark for food services, then no other business will be able to use that mark anywhere in New Zealand for their restaurant, café or bar.

Even if you set up your restaurant in one specific geographic location, you need to think about the big picture. If the first venture is a success, you may want to set up the same operation in another location or city. You may eventually want to franchise the business. To ensure the business’s future success, it’s important to register your name as a trade mark.

It doesn’t cost much to register a trade mark and by doing it, you’ll reserve that name for you and your future activities anywhere in New Zealand.

It’s equally important to make sure you can use your trading name for your food service business before you set up shop. Someone else may already be using the name you want so a search of registered trade marks and the market place is important. Facing a challenge and possibly having to change your name down the track will cost you and your business valuable time and money.

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