Cookie Time Ltd (CTL) with James & Wells help is going into battle against a Chinese company trying to register their Cookie Time Logo using identical artwork.
Cookie Time Limited (CTL) is going into battle against a Chinese company attempting to hijack the Cookie Time logo.
CTL late last year filed an opposition1 to the application2 by Qingdao Chengze Trade Co Ltd to register the Cookie Time logo in China. However, it has now been advised that it may take up to two years to hear the case. The Chinese company application to the State Intellectual Property3 Office (SIPO) uses identical artwork to the stylised Cookie Time logo.
The Chinese application is also blocking CTL's own attempts to trade mark its brand in China, on the back of the company's focus on international licensing opportunities. CTL is in major growth mode, counter-cyclical to market conditions, and is actively exploring licensing opportunities for its One Square Meal brand in a number of markets.
While trade marks and patents for CTL brands are already in place in Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States and the European Union, CTL is in the process of registering its brands in a number of additional markets, including China. Until the Qingdao application is resolved, however, CTL's trademark application for the Cookie Time brand in this market cannot be actioned.
Lincoln Booth, CTL general manager, says the company is taking a hard line in defending its intellectual property, and the two year delay on hearing the case in China is a serious concern, especially given Apple's current issues over the iPad trademark in China. A Chinese company is seeking a ban on iPad imports and exports.
"The iPad issue in China definitely raises major flags for us. We've got some big growth plans and opportunities in play, and we will not tolerate other companies attempting to cash in our own brand equity or steal a march on us in offshore markets," Booth says.
"We are totally focused on ensuring our brands are well protected with appropriate trade marks and patents. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but for companies with iconic brands it is something that needs to be constantly guarded against.
With Cookie Time, it is unclear whether the Chinese company is seeking to use the logo itself, or use it to extract a payment from CTL. CTL has not been approached by the company.
Smart entrepreneurship and innovation are central to CTL's DNA, with an ongoing new product development stream feeding its three core brands - Cookie Time, Bumper Bars and One Square Meal - a world first meal bar that delivers one third of daily nutritional requirements. One Square Meal has just been launched in major Australian supermarkets in a licensing deal with Sanitarium.
CTL has been making its iconic Cookie Time branded cookies since 1983, and has previously seen off a Hong Kong company which produced a rip-off chocolate chip cookie and packaged it identically.
For more information, contact: Lincoln Booth, Cookie Time Ltd, 03 349 6141 or 027 2795 783.
ABOUT COOKIE TIME LIMITED
Founded in 1983, Cookie Time Limited is an entrepreneurial, innovation-led food company. Its business includes franchised distribution and retail, licensing and manufacturing operations. Headquartered in New Zealand, the company is actively focused on international franchise and licensing opportunities.
Committed to quality, operational excellence and ongoing growth, this successful iconic company has a substantial portfolio which includes some of New Zealand's most loved food brands, and innovations such as gluten-free cookies, and Smart Cookies with the National Heart Foundation tick. It also makes Bumper Bars and the world-first meal bar One Square Meal - a breakthrough bar that delivers one third of daily nutritional requirements.
In 2010, CTL opened its first full-scale retail space, the Cookie Time Cookie Bar in Queenstown. The company employs more than 80 full time staff at its Christchurch head office, factory and food science laboratory. In addition, more than 40 independent franchisees distribute Cookie Time products throughout New Zealand.
1 In New Zealand, once a patent application has been accepted, it will be published in the Intellectual Property Office Journal. There is then a three month period where the application may be objected to (or opposed), by a third party. If no opposition is made the patent application will proceed to grant.
Any party that has an interest in the subject matter of the patent can oppose acceptance. The grounds that can be used to oppose a patent application include lack of novelty, lack of inventive step and insufficient disclosure of the invention.
Not all countries have an opposition period on patent applications. For country specific information, contact your IP advisor.
2 In most jurisdictions patent applications are subjected to an examination process to determine whether the subject matter is novel and inventive. The terms "application", "pending" or "patent application" are used to describe the status of the application up to grant.
3 Refers to the ownership of an intangible thing - the innovative idea behind a new technology, product, process, design or plant variety, and other intangibles such as trade secrets, goodwill and reputation, and trade marks. Although intangible, the law recognises intellectual property as a form of property which can be sold, licensed, damaged or trespassed upon. Intellectual property encompasses patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
James and Wells is the 2010 New Zealand Law Awards winner of the Intellectual Property Law Award for excellence in client service.