Business bouquets and brickbats

Last updated 15:02 16/05/2014

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Bouquet: Power-up

OPINION: The weather gods have smiled on the parched southern hydro lakes filling them nearly to the brim this month after they fell to worrying levels during the recent lengthy dry spell. North Island lakes are still on the low side, but typically benefit from higher rainfall over winter. The fillip has seen wholesale electricity prices drop at a time that demand for electricity is weak. All that should, in theory, lead to cheaper power bills. But, alas, unless there is more competition in the sector, the only way to keep the power bill at bay this winter will be by turning down the thermostat.

Bouquet: Smooth viewing

Judder-free high-definition online video viewing could finally become an affordable reality for most, with Chorus promising to more than triple the download speed of its cheapest ultrafast broadband plan for a measly $2.50 extra a month.

The telecommunications infrastructure company will also offer a supercharged version of its old-world copper wire-based broadband service, to be called Boost HD, guaranteeing customers will be able to watch an HD video stream at all times.

Better still, it will sell that service to internet providers (ISPs) at the same price as its existing copper-broadband service. The downside is that ISPs are likely to charge a premium for the extra oomph and any cuts to copper-link pricing ordered by regulators might not flow through to Boost HD.

Brickbat: Pink batts

The fluff flew in the High Court this week, as a judge upheld the iconic Pink Batts trademark owned by Fletcher Building, while also finding advertising for rival insulation material Earthwool, amounted to deception under the Fair Trading Act. It turns out that Knauf Insulation's Earthwool doesn't come off a sheep's back as the name might suggest, but is made of glass fibre, just like Pink Batts.

The case grappled with the question of exactly when a brand name became generic. Fletcher-owned Tasman Insulation took Knauf Insulation to task over the use of the world "batts" in its advertising. Knauf in return argued that the word was a generic term and the Pink Batts trademark should be revoked.

The findings could set a precedent for future battles over commonly used trademarks.

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