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Promoting and protecting our national symbol

22 Nov 2018
By Jessica Guthrie
FernMark NZ Story Blog

Consumers every day across the world make purchasing decisions influenced by trademarks, which is simply another way of referring to brands. And as a brand, our International Government departments use the FernMark to promote Education, Tourism, Immigration, Trade & Enterprise and Foreign Affairs & Trade. As such, our FernMark is an effective communication tool to promote trust and integrity. 

By allowing our international facing businesses to use the FernMark on their products, we’re enabling them to leverage the brand attributes and brand equity associated with New Zealand. At the same time, we are collectively promoting New Zealand’s products and services. 

Protecting our brand with Yellow Brand Protection 

The flipside of having such a recognised and positive brand presence brings its own challenges in the form of unlicensed use or counterfeiting. For these reasons, we are passionate about the enforcement and protection of the FernMark, a registered trademark in 14 countries and 44 classes around the globe¹. 

We take our responsibility seriously to monitor and pursue misuse and infringement of the FernMark, both internationally and domestically. One way we do this is by subscribing to Yellow Brand Protection (Yellow). 

Yellow is a specialist online anti-counterfeiting service provider that actively monitors more than 1000 online global marketplaces (such as Ebay, Alibaba, etc), social media platforms and other e-commerce websites on our behalf. Every day we review numerous product listings containing the FernMark or similar ferns, checking them to verify that there is no misuse or infringement of the FernMark. 

If an infringement needs enforcing, Yellow’s services include the removal of offending product listings from the web, via the in-market relationships they have established with local trading platforms. Yellow also retains copies of all listings for any additional on-the-ground investigation, legal or law enforcement actions that its clients may wish to take. 

Government enforcement has your back 

Since we started using Yellow’s services in January 2016, the Yellow service has detected potential infringements in 36,931 online advertisements, 788 websites and 13 social media sites. Yellow has also uncovered websites that use the FernMark (without permission) in advertising for hundreds of New Zealand products - and some Australian products too! Once identified, we then take steps to ensure that the FernMark is removed from the website and/or advertising. 

In such cases we have the ability to contact the offending company directly and, if appropriate, issue a “cease and desist” letter on behalf of the New Zealand government to prevent ongoing use. 

When people talk about IP, trademarks or legal protection they usually associate this with huge investment and dollars not available in the budget. This is why the Yellow Brand Protection service is an important part of the FernMark Licence Programme - to collectively monitor our Licensees products and ensure we protect our international brand. 

¹Footnote: 
The FernMark is a registered trademark in 14 countries and in 44 classes around the globe. These 14 countries reflect where we have an international government presence and where our New Zealand exporters are selling products and services.