AMI loses 'my' trademark battle


AMI Insurance has lost its battle to trademark 15 common insurance terms with the prefix "my", such as "my insurance".

The trademarks were approved for registration by the Intellectual Property Office last year.

But rivals AA Insurance, IAG New Zealand, Tower Insurance and Vero Insurance united to appeal against the decision to the High Court at Wellington in June.

They claimed the terms were generic to the industry, and were not distinctive enough to qualify as a trademark and could confuse consumers.

Justice Joe Williams said in his judgment that a large number of "my marks" had been registered in relation to goods and services, such as "My Money", a trademark for a Bank of New Zealand account and Sky Television's "My Sky".

But these did not use generic product names, unlike the words AMI was seeking to register, Justice Williams said.

AMI's application was the first in the insurance industry to try to trademark generic industry terms, including "my insurance, my car insurance and "my house insurance".

AMI said that the words it wanted to register were not used in the way its competitors would use them.

It argued that it was a "clever technique" to communicate to consumers in their own words.

The opposition by competing insurance companies simply reflected that AMI was the first to try and register the terms.