New Zealand Law Society - Money returned to misled trademark holders

Money returned to misled trademark holders

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The Commerce Commission says it has worked with ANZ Bank to successfully return around $600,000 to trademark holders who were misled about the need to pay an invoice from Swiss company TM Publisher (TMP).

A Commission investigation found that TMP was likely to have breached the Fair Trading Act 1986 when it sent New Zealand registered trademark holders an invoice about their trademark registration.

The Commission says it considered the invoice was likely to mislead trademark holders into thinking they were paying to re-register their trademark when they were actually paying to publish it on an overseas website. The invoice also failed to clearly inform the trademark holders that they were under no obligation to pay for the services offered.

Over 280 trademark holders made over $600,000 in payments to TMP's ANZ account between 10 March 2016 and 9 May 2016 after receiving the TMP invoice.

The Commission says all of those payments were reversed with ANZ’s assistance. TMP gave the Commission court enforceable undertakings in April 2016 which resulted in the reversal of payments to approximately 110 trademark holders. TMP also agreed to refund other trademark holders “on request.”

Around 55 trademark holders secured their own refunds and about 115 trademark holders successfully requested a refund from TMP after being contacted by the Commission.

The Commission says it has now issued a formal warning to TMP.

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