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Sendle wins trademark dispute with Australia Post

It was a classic tale of David vs Goliath.

Sendle, the shipping startup that has built a name for itself in the small business and online retail sector, was defending its right to trademark the slogan ‘Post without the office’.

Australia Post, the government-owned shipping giant, was arguing the phrase would confuse people, who – rightly or wrongly – associate the word ‘post’ with the mailing service.

The battle went all the way to IP Australia, a government agency responsible for administering and legislating intellectual property rights, including trade marks.

After reviewing the case over the past three months, the agency this week found in Sendle’s favour, writing that it was “not satisfied that these trade marks are deceptively similar”.

Moody told Internet Retailing the decision is “a victory for competition and for common sense.”

“We are not trying to pass ourselves off as Australia Post. We’re trying to differentiate ourselves from Australia Post,” he said.

Addressing the arguments put forward by Australia Post – that Sendle’s trademark was akin to a Coca Cola competitor using the slogan like ‘Coca without the Cola’ – IP Australia delegate Debrett Lyons wrote:

“I do not find that the Australia Post’s hypothetical treatment of other well-known trade marks is analogous. In the hypotheticals, […] the interposition of the words ‘without the’ results in an expression which has no hint of a meaning. The added words merely intersect with the known trade mark with no new meaning.”

Sendle CEO James Chin Moody previously explained to Internet Retailing that the trademark “evokes what people want, without the things they don’t want.”

Namely, queuing at the post office to send a parcel.

“We still get SMBs coming to us that have been lining up [at the post office] every day,” Moody said.

“We use the benefits of the internet and technology to do booking, tracking, customer support…all remotely. The phrase ‘Post without the office’ was trying to convey that.”

While Moody said the IP dispute was a waste of Sendle’s time and money, the principle of the matter was more important to him.

“It’s about standing up. A lot of our customers are standing up to big incumbents in their own markets, and we should be trying to do the same thing.

“My parents taught me that if you let someone intimidate you, you’re just telling them it’s acceptable,” he said.

Internet Retailing has asked Australia Post for comment and will update this article with their reply. 

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