Pink Batts rival taken to court

Last updated 15:06 15/08/2012

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Pink Batts supplier Tasman Insulation, a Fletcher Building company, is taking a rival to the High Court over the marketing of a competing insulation product.

Tasman Insulation is claiming German-owned Knauf Insulation infringed its Batts trademark, by importing insulation materials featuring the word.

It is also claiming Knauf and its New Zealand distributors, Buildfornextgen and Eco Isolation, have misled and deceived consumers - which is illegal under the Fair Trading Act - by using the trademark Earthwool on products made predominantly from recycled glass, not sheep's wool. 

Buildfornextgen director Nick Hall said it had not misled consumers.

"All our promotional and marketing activity clearly describes the product as glass wool or a fibre glass product."

Tasman was using the court action to stifle competition, he said.

"We're disappointed we're included in these actions, it's distracting us ... we're trying to promote and distribute a high-quality product to the New Zealand marketplace."

Knauf had acknowledged Tasman had the Pink Batts trademark but believed batts was a generic term that could be used by anyone, Hall said.

However, in New Zealand the word Batts is a registered trademark, owned by Tasman since 1975.

A statement of fact released by Tasman says Knauf first imported the materials last year, and after a shipment was detained by Customs, Knauf reached agreement with Tasman to cease all use of the trademark on its goods.

Subsequent to those discussions further shipments featuring the trademark were detained by Customs, and in November Knauf filed an application to revoke the trademark.

In response, Tasman began legal proceedings against Knauf for infringing its trademark, and subsequently added the claim under the Fair Trading Act. 

The High Court hearing has been provisionally set for mid-next year.

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