The long running stoush between Australia Post and Sendle is over. In a big win for Australian startup Sendle, IP Australia ruled that Australia Post has no grounds to oppose Sendle's trademark application for the slogan `Post without the office.'
In 2015, Sendle registered the trade mark `Post without the Office,' pretty clear, that's what Sendle does, it offers post... without the office. Using Sendle you can send parcels Australia wide, without having to lineup at the Post Office. Australia Post said no, opposed the registration on a few grounds, one of these being that it was `deceptively or confusingly similar' to the `Post Office' trade mark.
Confused? We were too. We think that Australia Post may be underestimating the ability of the average Australian to pick up on a parody. However, it was confusion that was at the heart of the opposition. A trade mark can be opposed if it is contrary to law, similar to another mark or it's likely to result in consumers being confused. Australia Post had two grounds, which were:
- Sendle's mark is similar to Australia Post's marks, so, members of the public would be confused as to whether the Sendle service was offered by Australia Post and
- the average person would be misled, or deceived, into thinking Sendle was, in fact, Australia Post. Sendle said their mark directs customers away from Australia Post.
Sendle doesn't want people to be confused, Sendle wants people to use Sendle, not Australia Post, so really Sendle sincerely hopes people aren't confused.
Australia Post said that Sendle's mark is basically the same as "COCA WITHOUT THE COLA", "HUNGRY WITHOUT THE JACKS" or "LOUIS WITHOUT THE VUITTON." IP Australia didn't really go into this point, maybe because it was a silly comparison.
IP Australia also ventured into the untested waters of parody, referring to a US decision that stated the test of parody is whether a consumer would be 'not confused, but amused,' or that the mark would be a `take off, not a rip off.'
IP Australia agreed with Sendle and ruled that neither of the above grounds were made out by Australia Post and as a result, Australia Post has no basis on which to oppose Sendle's registration.