Defiant Facebook users are putting a trademarked silver fern
logo on their profiles after a government agency warned
against using it on social media.
Last week, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) ordered an
ex-pat Kiwi to stop using its silver fern logo on his Twitter
profile, citing copyright infringement.
A story revealing NZTE's email to the Twitter user attracted
hundreds of comments on the nzherald.co.nz Facebook page -
including one inciting others to use the logo on their own
social media profiles.
Matt Williamson, who changed his Facebook picture to the NZTE
fern logo, wrote: "Think everyone should use this fern as
their display pics."
His comment attracted close to 100 likes and apparently
prompted at least 10 other people to change their own profile
pictures to the logo.
Among them was Anthony McBride, who wrote: "Mwahahahaha.
We'll see if they can get through to me."
Tabitha Elizabeth May said: "Loving my new prof pic. Suck.it
Another Facebook user said he had seen 20 or so Twitter
profile pic changes but there had been hundreds of Facebook
profile pic changes.
"I know a handful of those that have changed are concerned
around Intellectual Property laws in general, length of
patents, trademarks and copyright although most of the people
see it as an affront to their sense of nationhood and common
ownership that any form of the silver fern can be claimed."
NZTE released a statement tonight, saying the primary focus
continued to be on commercial infringements of the specific
New Zealand Way Fern logo.
"Requests to individual users do not come from our lawyers -
they are a polite request from the marketing team, advising
that that the stylised version of the fern being used is
copyright to The New Zealand Way Ltd," NZTE marketing
director Nick Swallow said.
"As a point of reference, NZTE's logo is separate to the New
Zealand Way Fern logo. The NZ Way Fern logo is owned by The
New Zealand Way Ltd, a joint entity owned by New Zealand
Trade and Enterprise and Tourism New Zealand.
"Of course, we have no interest or rights across any other
silver fern, which is a recognised national symbol. The New
Zealand Way Fern logo is one stylised version only, and it is
only this fern logo that we have any interest in protecting.
"New Zealand has a strong brand offshore, which is a powerful
tool for NZ businesses. Providing a trademark related to the
New Zealand Way Fern logo is part of supporting our country's
The Twitter user who sparked the controversy removed the logo
following NZTE's request. He said he was surprised and amused
NZTE had targeted him.
"Surely NZTE have bigger things to worry about than a Twitter
user with 55 followers using a certain silver fern image," he
"As a New Zealander the silver fern is a symbol of who I am,
and I shouldn't have to pick which version of the fern I use
for my account."