Lawyers weigh in on MasterCard trademark battle

by Samantha Woodhill19 Oct 2016
MasterCard failed to prove that the World Masters Games stole bits of it’s logo, the International Property Office of New Zealand ruling the credit card company had no grounds to oppose and allowed the logo’s registration.
"It seems MasterCard was trying it on a bit.  It cannot have really thought it would win that opposition,” said Simpson Grierson IP partner Richard Watts on the outcome.  
Meanwhile, partner Earl Gray questions what would happen had MasterCard won the trade mark battle, saying the case demonstrates the importance in understanding the limits of the monopoly granted by a trade mark registration.
"It's unrealistic to think the World Masters Games would have come to a halt, or be forced to change the name of the games,” he told NZ Lawyer.
“With a word like 'master', can a registration that includes ‘master’ combined with another descriptive term - really give you the ability to stop anyone else using those letters with other distinguishing element?
“The logo in question is pretty distinctive, and the words have quite a different message to MasterCard.”
MasterCard argued that the event’s name and logo might “cause confusion”.  But World Masters Games said there was no confusion, arguing that the two brands have existed in New Zealand since March of 2014.
 In her decision, Trade Marks assistant commission Natasha Alley said while there was a commonality in colours, she did not consider the similarities to be significant.
“They convey very different ideas and look and sound different,” she said.
MasterCard has the right to appeal, Stuff reported.