INDEPENDENT NEWS

Will Team New Zealand Socks Make Santa See Red?

Published: Tue 21 Dec 1999 10:57 AM
Will Team New Zealand Socks Make Santa See Red?
With sock manufacturers coming under threat of action for producing red socks, one wonders whether Santa is in danger by supplying red socks to his many helpers in New Zealand, a leading patent and trade mark attorney muses.
"Has Team New Zealand's Red Socks campaign forever changed the public's view of whether Santa still owns his reputation for red socks?" asks Philip Thoreau, of Baldwin Shelston Waters.
"If ever there was a fundraising campaign which may potentially miss its mark, it appears to be the current Team New Zealand Red Socks campaign," he says.
"It's important to look at the reasoning why TNZ may have proceeded with its campaign. It may not be about price, but it could well be about money."
Mr Thoreau says Santa has given red socks to his helpers and "good children" for hundreds of years.
"He likes New Zealanders to share in the joy of Christmas and sources his red socks from a variety of local manufacturers and from around the world. Despite a large distribution business he doesn't have a monopoly on red socks as many people buy them and give them at Christmas and other times of the year.
"So Santa's existing suppliers have ensured that the actual concept of red socks can't be claimed as being exclusively distinctive of Team New Zealand."
But Mr Thoreau says that specifically designed red socks, with logos and colour schemes, can create a type of sock in which intellectual property rights reside. Thus the owner of the intellectual property rights can control the sale of the special socks and the fundraising provided.
Santa can still talk about red socks and give them out to good children as long as they don't incorporate similar designs and logos to those associated with the TNZ's red socks.
"As an exercise to control fundraising, Team New Zealand had to develop a specially designed sock," says Mr Thoreau.
End
For further information contact: Philip Thoreau, Baldwin Shelston Waters, patent and trade mark attorneys: Auckland 373 3137

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