Nonu plans venture into world of clothing

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013

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All Black Ma'a Nonu is trademarking one of his favourite Twitter hashtags in preparation for setting up a possible clothing line.

The dreadlocked midfielder applied to trademark "#hashtag baby" this week in the categories for clothing, which includes footwear and headgear, and sales.

Nonu was reluctant to speak publicly before he had fully hashed out the business, but confirmed he was kicking some ideas around.

"It's just something that I've got in mind and probably potentially bring out when it's fully organised," he said.

The recently converted Highlanders player is a prolific tweeter, with more than 30,000 followers under the account @maavelous on the social network.

He started signing off his tweets with #hashtagbaby several months ago to "take the piss" out some of the other All Black boys - but then they started pinching his catchphrase.

"I wanted to lock it down first, potentially make a business out of it," he said.

"It's just an idea - I've still got to do my homework."

Corinne Blumsky, a partner at intellectual property firm AJ Park, acted as Nonu's agent.

She explained that it was possible to trademark all sorts of elements, including colours, smells, and common English words, provided they were distinctive within the area of business.

In 2011, chocolatier Cadbury famously won the exclusive rights to a specific shade of purple after a lengthy legal battle.

Blumsky said it was not uncommon for companies to trademark Twitter handles or hashtags so that they could align them with all their other branding.

Chris Ross, a trademark specialist with Baldwins Intellectual Property, said Nonu had a good shot at getting the brand registered.

That was because it had "distinctive character" within the categories of clothing and sales.

"What you could not register in relation to clothing would be something like a T-shirt," he said.

Twitter reviews and suspends accounts that deliberately imitate companies' names, logos, or other trademark-protected materials.

If trademarks are used in a way "that may mislead or confuse others" about the brand, it may also be considered a violation.

Anyone can register a trademark with the Intellectual Property Office, at the cost of $150 plus GST for each class.

 

ALL BLACKS’ BUSINESS VENTURES

FURNITURE

After struggling to find a bed that would fit his 6'7" (2m) frame, Ali Williams set up and invested in discount furniture chain SuperFurn. However, slow sales during the recession caused it to fold after just over a year.

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FASHION

Golden-booted goalkicker Dan Carter had a 50 per cent stake in high-end Italian clothing chain Gas, which went into liquidation in 2010.

BURGERS

Michael Jones launched the country's first Carl's Jr in South Auckland in 2011 and another store soon afterward. The Iceman's franchise has rights available to open six more of the popular burger outlets.

BEVERAGES

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw set up the For Everyone beverage brand alongside Williams and Carter in 2009. The trio have since sunk more money in to support the company, which contributes some of its profit to a charitable foundation.

FUNERALS

After retiring from the field, Va'aiga Tuigamala set up funeral director company Tuigamala and Sons, which organised the services for the late King of Tonga, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.

BED AND BREAKFAST

Number eight legend Zinzan Brooke set up a B&B in the English town of Windsor with wife Alison but both ended up filing for bankruptcy.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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