With the current visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George to Australia and New Zealand there may be a temptation to use their names or likeness in the promotion of goods and services.

However, such use needs to be given consideration as it may be taken as implying Royal patronage or may be contrary to law.

The Trade Marks Act 1953 prohibits the registration of a trade mark “that contains a representation of Her Majesty or any member of the Royal Family, or an imitation of any such representation, unless the application has obtained the consent of Her Majesty or the relevant member of the Royal Family to the registration of the trade mark”[1].

It is an offence to use any representation of the Coat of Arms of Her Majesty or any other member of the Royal Family; any representation of any Royal crown or Royal coronet or Royal cypher or Royal badge; or any representation of the Royal Standard, or the Sovereign’s personal flag for New Zealand[2].

It is also an offence to use in connection with any business, trade or occupation the word Royal[3] or any other word or statement that claims or implies the patronage of Her Majesty or any other member of the Royal Family[4]. That use may take the form of the name, title, style, designation or trade mark.

An exception to this last prohibition is if the use of the word or statement is expressly authorised by an Act of Parliament or Her Majesty or Governor-General. If the word or statement comprises the whole or part of the proper name of any town or road or other place; or is the surname (not being a surname taken or used for the purpose of defeating the intention of this section) of the person or a foundation member of the organisation planning to use the name then there is no offence committed.

Examples of uses of Royal expressly authorised by an Act of Parliament are the names Royal Society of New Zealand and Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

If you apply to register a trade mark or company name which includes the word Royal permission to use that trade mark or name will be referred by the Commissioner of Trade Marks or Registrar of Companies to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

In assessing such applications, the Ministry will consider:

· Whether the use of the word “Royal” suggest Royal sanction or approval where none exists; and

· Whether the proposal is likely to cause offence or generate inappropriate association with (and reflect negatively on) the Sovereign.

Any authorisation for the use of the word “Royal” will be given by the Governor-General on the advice of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

We wish their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George a enjoyable and safe visit to New Zealand and caution you to think twice before using a name or trade mark which may inappropriately imply Royal patronage.