C.ex, Club Coffs in brand battle

TWO of Coffs Coast’s leading licensed clubs have had the verdict delivered on a Supreme Court showdown.

C.ex Coffs, the plaintiff, and Club Coffs, the defendant, met before Acting Justice AJ Lindgren on May 31 over the rebranding of both clubs last year.

Related:  Both clubs claim legal victory

C.ex Coffs claimed that Club Coffs contravened sections of the Trade Practices Act and caused confusion by using the name ‘Club Coffs’.

The Coffs Harbour Catholic Recreation and Sporting Club Ltd registered the name Club Coffs on June 24, 2009, and it was publicly launched on July 29, 2009.

C.ex Coffs, formerly known as the Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Memorial and Sporting Club Ltd demanded that Club Coffs cease to use that name, alleging that those two words had become synonymous with C.ex Coffs in the minds of people in Coffs Harbour and its environs.

Justice Lindgren said although it had never used those words as its name or badge, in its case, C.ex Coffs relied on the general reputation associated with that name in the minds of the public. It also used signage on its premises and in various documents in which the word Coffs appeared very prominently.

In commenting on the stages of rebranding undertaken by C.ex Coffs in 2008 and 2009, he said: “There were some difficulties with a ‘CEX Club’ which need not be elaborated upon and so in June, 2009, a second rebranding occurred in which C.ex appeared in a logo with ... Myclub Coffs appearing below the C.ex.”

The C.ex Group made known its adoption of the second rebranding on June 25, 2009, and the new brand began to appear in the press in early July 2009.

The judge said the clubs engaged in their rebranding independently and there was no suggestion that either club intentionally or deliberately sought to trade off the rebranding of the other club, so the plaintiff’s claim was not one of intentional deception.

He said the issue was whether the plaintiff could establish the reputation that it alleged it enjoyed in the minds of the relevant section of the public ‘so the case depended upon repute in the community generally’.

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