A Hamilton-based company which makes cases for smartphones
has won a New Zealand trademark dispute with technology giant
and iPhone maker Apple.
The fight, at the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office,
was over whether the New Zealand firm could register the
driPhone is a Hamilton company which makes waterproof and
shockproof cases for smartphones. It sells protective cases
for devices such as the iPhone and iPad as well as Android
driPhone's director Hayden Crowther applied to register the
trademark "Driphone" for waterproof electronic cases in
August 2011 but this was opposed by tech giant Apple.
Apple has registered trademarks for the iPhone in New Zealand
and argued the "driphone" mark would likely deceive or cause
Among other arguments, Apple also claimed use of the opposed
trademark would breach sections of the Fair Trading Act.
During an IPONZ hearing, Crowther argued the trademark he was
applying for sounded and looked very different from Apple's
iPhone trade mark.
"My trade mark DRIPHONE is readily distinguishable from
Apple's iPhone trade mark. In particular DRIPHONE does not
use 'i' as a prefix. Additionally, the 'I' in DRIPHONE does
not refer to the internet or other smart technology. Instead
it is part of 'Dri' which is a phonetic spelling of 'dry' and
refers to the fact that DRIPHONE cases are waterproof,"
During their opposition, Apple submitted to IPONZ that the
iPhone trade mark was a "household name in New Zealand" and
people would wonder whether driPhone's goods were those of,
or were licensed or endorsed by, Apple.
In her decision released yesterday, Assistant Commissioner
Jane Glover declined all of Apple's grounds of opposition.
Glover said the "DRIPHONE" trademark must be registered if
there was no appeal against her decision.
She awarded $2950 in costs to Crowther.
- By Hamish Fletcher of the NZ Herald