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Mate! That's not a fair go, says Aussie trademark holder

Trent Lecky, owner of the trademark Mate Australia.
Trent Lecky, owner of the trademark Mate Australia. Brett Wortman

A SUNSHINE Coast entrepreneur who bought the trademark for the word "mate" four years ago might have to take on a business giant after it used the word on a stubbie holder, then refused his call for a fair go.

Bli Bli's Trent Lecky bought the trademark, which gave him protected right to use the word "mate" for a decade.

The former truck driver invested his time and money, producing associated products - including a stubbie holder - around the name.

About two months ago he discovered cosmetic giant Natio had brought out a Christmas range of packaged stubbie holders labelled "Mate".

The stubbie holder comes with a Natio face moisturiser and is being sold in chemists, Myers and chain stores across the country.

Mr Lecky wrote to Natio on November 16, informing it of the copyright infringement.

He received a letter a Natio solicitor - Robert Kelson - saying the stubbie holder was "merely a promotional give-away item".

"There is no charge for it," Mr Kelson wrote.

"There is no trade in the stubbie holder. Consequently, the term 'mate' is not used as a trademark for the stubbie holder or the outer packaging but as a trademark for the face moisturiser, if it is used as a trademark at all.

"Your allegations of trademark infringement are denied."

However, Mr Kelson wrote that "in the interests of good commercial relations", Natio would cease application once stock sold out.

Mr Lecky has received his own legal advice, which suggests Natio selling a product clearly labelled as "mate" infringes his trademark.

But he said it would cost about $15,000 to fight it in the courts.

The former Sunshine Coast truck driver is frustrated his attempts to build up his business are being thwarted by a big business that does not seem to care.

"There are still going to be Mate-branded coolers that are not from my company out in the marketplace," he said.

The Daily tried contacting Natio, through Mr Kelson. However, he had not responded yesterday.

Topics:  editors picks, mate, trademark



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