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Businesses get back $600K for trademarks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">New Zealand businesses share in more than $600,000 of returned payments after the Commerce Commission found a Swiss company breached fair trade rules.</span> © alexskopje/iStock/Getty Images New Zealand businesses share in more than $600,000 of returned payments after the Commerce Commission found a Swiss company breached fair trade rules. New Zealand companies misled into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for trademark services they did not need have had their money returned.

ANZ Bank, working with the Commerce Commission, returned the money after Swiss company TM Publisher had earlier sent bills to local businesses asking them to pay $1638 to list trademarks on its website.

More than 280 trademark holders subsequently paid more than $600,000 to the firm's ANZ account between March and May this year.

However, the commission found TMP breached the Fair Trading Act because its invoice likely misled the companies into thinking they were paying to re-register their trademarks when they were actually paying to publish it on an overseas website.

The invoice also failed to adequately inform the companies they were under no obligation to pay, the commission said.

"All the trademark holders we spoke to thought the $1638 fee was for their trademark registration renewal when it was not," Commissioner Anna Rawlings said.

ANZ Bank has now reversed all the payments made by the 280 trademark holders with the commission also issuing a formal warning to TMP.

"In this instance we were able to ensure that trademark holders received their money back without taking court action," Ms Rawlings said.

"However, where necessary we will consider seeking the assistance of the court to prevent harm to consumers from these types of schemes."

Last year, the commission issued warnings about two companies, Corporate Portal New Zealand and Global Map Index, which received complaints about similar schemes where companies reported being signed into expensive contracts for services they thought were free.

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