driPhone trademark battle rumbles on

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012
Hayden Crowther and his driPhone
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
NO CONFUSION: Hayden Crowther shows off his driPhone.

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Apple has offered the Hamilton inventor behind the waterproof smartphone case called driPhone an undisclosed wad of cash to change the name in New Zealand.

The American personal computing giant is also offering to pay for Hayden Crowther, who has sold thousands of the waterpoof cases from his www.driphone.co.nz website, to resubmit his registration for a trademark in New Zealand under a new name.

But Crowther, who refused to detail the offer publicly, intends to wait and see what a commissioner of the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand makes of the case which he became aware of on December 23 last year.

Apple, founded by the late Steve Jobs, said it objected to his registering the driPhone name in New Zealand because it sounded like its iPhone brand.

Apple made a similar offer earlier in the year, asking Mr Crowther to change the letter "i" to a "y", but he rejected that.

Now Apple has come back to the table with a similar offer, which he is refusing to detail.

"I have got it registered in Australia and registered in Mexico but Apple have objected in the European Union," Crowther said.

At the same time Apple's trademark solicitor, Sam McQuilkan, of Henry Hughes trademark and patent attorneys in Wellington, has made a statutory declaration against Crowther.

In it, McQuilkan said Crowther had applied for the trade mark in lower case letters, driphone, but used an upper case letter P on his website, driPhone.

McQuilkan also quotes a Waikato Times feature on Crowther, published last January, in which Crowther announced plans to make a waterproof iPad case called the driPad.

He has since decided to call it the driTab.

Crowther denies consumers are confused by the brand name.

"Not one person has asked me if driPhone is part of Apple," he said.

"Their objection has only given me a lot of publicity and brand recognition which has enforced the point that I am not part of Apple."

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- Waikato Times

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