Treliske v Trelise in new trademark row

A Roxburgh organic produce company is the latest to become entangled with fashion designer Trelise Cooper over the trademark of her name.

Treliske, which produces certified organic wool and knitwear, beef and lamb for export, claimed the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) failed to guarantee protection of its trademark name by registering the trademark Trelise to the fashion designer's business in 2006.

Trelise Cooper reached an out-of-court settlement over the use of her name with fellow designer Tamsin Cooper last July after a 20-month legal battle.

Trelise Cooper chief executive officer Alex Brandon had contacted Treliske to discuss the issue but Treliske director Jackie Aitchison said the case was not negotiable.

When contacted by the Otago Daily Times yesterday, Mrs Aitchison said her company had paid for registration rights and ongoing costs of $15,000 since being assigned the trademark Treliske by IPONZ in 1993.

‘‘Fifteen years ago, we registered Treliske on the basis we would base our company on that name. We have spent a lot of money registering Treliske in New Zealand and the United States, and thought our name was protected.''

Mrs Aitchison said the company farm had been called Treliske since 1946 by three generations of Aitchisons.

‘‘We think that name actually belongs to us,'' she said. IPONZ had not done its job properly and the Roxburgh company was being made to pay, she said.

‘‘Now the onus is all on us to prove there is enough similarity in the two trademarks as to not allow one of them. We think they (IPONZ) should admit they made a mistake and de-register the Trelise trade mark,'' she said.

Mrs Aitchison said she did not have a problem with the trademark Trelise Cooper - the original name registered by the fashion designer - because it was a double-word name.

She was told by IPONZ last July the organisation did not deal with disputes and she would have to consult a patent attorney at her own expense.

Mrs Aitchison filed for the trademark Trelise to be declared invalid. The move was contested by Trelise Cooper, the two businesses were forced to prove their rights to the names, and the issue could end in a costly court battle.

Mrs Aitchison issued a warning to other businesses paying to register trademarks.

‘‘Protecting your intellectual property doesn't come cheap,'' she said. IPONZ trademarks acting manager Rachel Dawson could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

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