Logo trademark trumps council

By Laura Mills

An election candidate has applied to register the Grey District Council’s own logo — a move that could prevent the council from using it.
The new logo has met with strong criticism since it was unveiled a week ago.
Te Kinga developer David Ellerm, who is standing for the eastern ward of the council, has applied to the Intellectual Property Office to word mark the phrase ‘Mawhera Grey District Heart of the West Coast’.
His move, out of left field, caught everyone by surprise this morning.
It means Mr Ellerm is first in the queue to have his bid assessed, the first of two steps to owning the phrase.
If successful, that means he can — in theory — prevent the council using its own logo.
Mr Ellerm said he did it because he did not want a decision made on the logo until after the local body elections, in October.
The outgoing council had already invested $6000 in something it did not have the legal right to, he said.
“This logo debate should be held over until after the election and the issue put out for wider public consultation, especially the youth of the district, to empower the people.”
Theoretically, he could stop the council using the phrase and it will be “my intellectual property”.
He said the council should pay more attention to Greymouth tourist operators such as Paul Schramm, who were unhappy with the logo.
Mr Ellerm said the logo would have worked in the 1970s, “in the era of shoulder pads and stubbies”, but in the modern world there were only “nano seconds” to grab people’s attention.
He described himself as a “passionate believer in the people of the West Coast”.
Mayor Tony Kokshoorn, asked today if the council should have itself applied for the trademark, said “why would we even think someone would steal a logo that’s going to promote our community?”.
It would now cost the council money to fight the application.
“Mr Ellerm needs to understand that the council is comprised of eight councillors and a mayor. We do it as a team.”
He said Mr Ellerm had “lost sight of teamwork and collaboration for his own personal gain, as part of electioneering”.
A group of stakeholders had been consulted, including the Mawhera Incorporation, Ngati Waewae, Tourism West Coast, the Greymouth Business and Promotions Association and Reefton film-maker Alun Bollinger.
Mr Kokshoorn said the logo was now out for additional feedback, and the final version could be tweaked.
A spokesman for the Intellectual Property Office said applications were dealt with on a first come, first served basis.
The application would be considered and examined within 15 working days to see if it met the criteria, for example if it was similar to an existing logo. If it was accepted, it would be publicly notified, giving three months for groups, such as the council, to say why it should not be granted.