Dog Groomers Run Into Trademark Hassles

Date: 7th May 2012

Nelson business owners Todd Padgett and Shirley McEwan are kicking themselves for not checking the trademark register when setting up their dog grooming business four years ago.
They moved to Nelson from the United States in 2008 and set up a pet grooming business called Precious Paws.
They hired an accountant to help set up the business, but Mr Padgett said the accountant must not have checked the name on the trademark register.
“We were new here and we didn’t know all the processes. I could have done all the work, but I trusted a professional to do it,” he said.
The pair decided to expand their business this year and Mr Padgett set up a business website, which is when things started to unravel.
Mr Padgett said they got a “fairly stiff” email from a Tauranga pet care company called Absolutely Precious Paws, telling them to change their name.
That company opened in 2002, operating under the trademarked name Precious Paws and the owners changed its name to Absolutely Precious Paws in 2007.
Mr Padgett said: `She gave up the company name [in 2007], but she had trademarked the words in it.”
Mr Padgett and Ms McEwan decided a trademark dispute was not worth the cost or hassle, so they were in the process of changing their business’ name to Paws R Precious.
Mr Padgett said they had not run the new name past the owners of the Tauranga business, but the Intellection Property Office has said it was OK.
“It is annoying to have to go through and change everything around. We’re in a different kind of business, we’re in a different island and we have been using it for four years,” he said.
“It’s a nuisance more than anything else and I feel pretty stupid, because I could have checked it.”
The couple’s story echoes The House of Brown Sugar trademark saga, where the owner of the Wakatu Square cafe was forced to change its name by the owners of a Taihape cafe.
Kara Healey gave in to legal pressures put on her by the owners of The Brown Sugar Cafe, who registered “brown sugar” as a trademark more than 18 years ago. Her Nelson cafe is now called The Strawberry Bakehouse.

Fairfax News published 5/5/2012 Anna Pearson

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