It’s all about ME!

Trade Me is taking legal action to try to block a competitor from setting up websites using the word “me”.

The auction website has filed proceedings with the Intellectual Property Office to stop media group NZME from setting up the brands shopme, driveme and propertyme.

At present, shopme.co.nz, propertyme.co.nz and driveme.co.nz all direct visitors to other NZME sites.

NZME is the new name of what used to be APN News & Media, which publishes the NZ Herald.

Trade Me has filed evidence based on a survey showing that a significant number of consumers who see the word “me” in a brand name think it is related to Trade Me.

Ben Cain, an associate in the litigation team at intellectual property specialist law firm James & Wells said Trade Me would have a strong argument.

He said it could be claimed that such a brand would be in breach of the Fair Trading Act because the Trade Me name was so well known, and by association consumers would think other brands that ended in “me” were related to the website.

“There is at least an arguable case that a significant proportion of consumers will be misled or deceived into thinking there is a connection.”

He said “shopme” in particular was a very similar concept to Trade Me and so would be hard to justify.

“To breach the Fair Trading Act, intent is not relevant. It can be a completely innocent breach of the Act, they could register shopme thinking it’s perfectly acceptable, with no intent to make consumers confused but it doesn’t stop a court finding them in breach of the Act.”

The battles between Fairfax, NZME and Mediaworks are entertaining.  The back-stabbing, sand-bagging and sledging is more entertaining than their normal fare.

Interestingly enough, trade.me (a Mexican domain name) leads to trademe.co.nz, but when you type nz.me

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Had NZME registered that, they may have had a stronger case.  As it is, I believe TradeMe should register it immediately to protect what they believe is their trademark.

 

– Stuff


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