Former Probus club moves forward following trademark dispute gallery

Rebus Club of Hibiscus Coast president Peter Odendaal awards John McColl with a Life Membership Award at a mid-year ...
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Rebus Club of Hibiscus Coast president Peter Odendaal awards John McColl with a Life Membership Award at a mid-year luncheon celebration, the club's final occasion as a Probus club.

The former Probus Club of Hibiscus Coast has celebrated its final occasion as a probus club after a sour trans-Tasman clash saw the Aussies again claiming another country's idea.

Now the Rebus Club of Hibiscus Coast, the 34 year old club was forced to rename by Probus South Pacific Ltd of Sydney (PSPL) which has recently trademarked the Probus name and regalia.

Rebus, an abbreviation of Retired Business persons, was identified as an alternative name by the club late last year amidst club concerns the Probus name may become unusable.

After a recent successful application by the PSPL to obtain the trademark, their concerns have proven prescient, as all New Zealand Probus Clubs must now rename and rebrand, unless affiliated with PSPL.

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Any club that fails to change its name by October 31 may face legal action.

"Clubs have been using the Probus name in New Zealand long before the Australian organisation was even founded, but as it turns out nobody in New Zealand trademarked the name," Chairman of Rebus Graeme McIntosh says.

The decision came in the Auckland High Court in September 2015 when Justice Toogood ruled in favour of PSPL.

Fellowship New Zealand Incorporated (FNZI), formerly Probus New Zealand Inc (PNZI), and seven other incorporated clubs included in the ruling were ordered to remove the word Probus from their names immediately.

Court costs of $15,300 were awarded against PNZI, which PSPL offered to pay, should PNZI agree to relinquish the objection it had lodged at the Intellectual Property office.

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"Probus New Zealand said yes, took the money, and did not consult the 273 clubs that had defected from Australia," McIntosh says.

"As part of the agreement, Probus New Zealand signed a contract saying they would not challenge the use of the Probus name in future."

McIntosh says he and the club are "keenly disappointed and let down," by PNZI's decision.

"Our club was so concerned that having worked so hard to obtain independence for New Zealand clubs, the very entity supposed to do that had let everybody down."

Prior to the decision, New Zealand probus clubs had for two years shifted away from the PSPL, with 273 of 430 New Zealand clubs defecting from the Australian body.

"Motivation for the exodus from Australian control was the ever increasing cost of affiliation fees and the transition from PSPL's primary function as a service centre for all Australasian clubs, to a dominating governing body which sought to exploit a captive membership of around 175,000 persons," McIntosh says.

Clubs throughout New Zealand are at various stages of making a decision about renaming, McIntosh says, but "a very encouraging number of clubs have said yes to being part of Rebus".

The Rebus Club of Hibiscus Coast's final occasion as a Probus affiliated club saw John McColl of Manly Beach awarded with a Life Membership Award at a mid-year luncheon celebration.

The Probus name has been freely used by New Zealand clubs since the country's first club was established in 1974.  The Probus Club movement was formed in the United Kingdom in 1965.

See rebus.nz for more.

 - Rodney Times

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