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We like the cut of your GIB but only if it’s actually GIB…

You can't use a brand name or trade mark in place of a product name

16 February 2021

We like the cut of your GIB, but only if it’s actually GIB…

Here in good old NZ we are lucky to have access to a bunch of great products.

Some of them we are so familiar with, we adopt their names to describe other similar goods.

However, we need to ensure we aren’t misusing some well-known trademarks and infringing on the intellectual property rights attached to that brand when we describe other products.

Here’s a few classic examples:

Not all fibreglass insulation is ‘Batts’. Kiwis love the cuddly looking ‘Pink’ fluff that keeps our houses toasty warm.

But, ‘Batts’ and 'Pink Batts' are actually registered trademarks, and can only be used to describe ‘Pink Batts’ made under the ‘Pink Batts’ brand.

If you have some insulation you’d like to sell on the Trade Me site, you can use the trademark to describe it only if the item is actual ‘Pink Batts’.

If the insulation is another brand you can use that brand's name to advertise it.

Or you can use a generic term like fibreglass insulation, insulation sheets, insulation bales, or woollen insulation – you get the drift!

Kiwis are famous for our love of DIY, so it’s no surprise there are all sorts of building supplies available on Trade Me.

You may have heard of a brand called ‘GIB’?

Well just like ‘Batts’, not all plasterboard is ‘GIB’.

‘GIB’ is a registered trademark too, so anything not produced under the ‘GIB’ brand should be referred to by its own brand or a generic name; sheetrock, wall board or plasterboard.

This includes any products you might use for installing plasterboard, including screws, saws, drills and services too.

If you’re advertising for a ‘tradie’ you’re after a plasterer or stopper unless you actually are using GIB product.

Tape is only sticky – unless it’s branded ‘Sellotape’.

Over the year as a nation we must use hundreds of kilometres of sticky tape and adhesive tape, yep you guessed it – ‘Sellotape’ is a registered trademark too!

For our members on the move, packaging and wraps provide a little padding to protect precious possessions.

It might look like ‘Bubblewrap’, but it is in fact air cushioned plastic wrapping, packaging or safety wrap. ‘Bubblewrap’ is a trademark owned by the Sealed Air Corporation. Who knew!?

We’ve grown up with lace-less shoes, hair rollers, wallets and joint supports with those easy to do-up and tear apart fasteners called hook and loop fasteners, these are not necessarily ‘Velcro’.

Velcro is the trademark name for a brand of this handy form of convenient hook and loop affixation. When listing items for sale on the site, be sure to describe the fastening correctly, as hook and loop!

Along with ‘Pink Batts’ and ‘GIB’, ’Sellotape’, ‘Bubblewrap’ and 'Velcro' are also registered trademarks.

When creating your listings, give a little thought to the product you’re selling. Rights holders are pretty understanding, and we realise most misuse of trademarks is unintentional.

However, rights holders do want to protect the trademarks that they have heavily invested in developing and often contact us to help enforce them.

To avoid us having to mess with your listings, please do not use common brand names for products to describe similar products in that class.

For more information, or to search registered trademarks, visit IPONZ.

Creative Commons image used courtesy megan young on Flickr.