A Christchurch cafe owner facing legal action over the use of the word “bach” believes the classic Kiwi term cannot be owned.
John Stringer opened the Kiwi Bach cafe in Sumner recently, but was surprised to learn the name, slang for holiday house, was a possible trademark breach. Frenzi Group, which operates several bars and restaurants in New Zealand, including three in Christchurch, has owned “The Bach” trademark since 2003.
Stringer said he was contacted by Frenzi director Roy Thompson “out of the blue” about trademark ownership and received a letter from the group’s Christchurch lawyers last Saturday. The letter said that while not identical to Frenzi’s trademark, Kiwi Bach was sufficiently similar to “deceive or confuse”.
“Just because [Thompson’s] trademark happens to include `The Bach’, it doesn’t give him the right to the generic phrase `bach’,” Stringer said. “If people seek to trade in a way that confuses your image with theirs, then you’ve got a case, but clearly that’s not the case here.”
He had refused to change the name or pay a licensing fee. “[Thompson] advised me that he has several people paying licensing agreements or royalties for use of the word `bach’, but I think that’s not right,” Stringer said.
Thompson said yesterday Frenzi paid “many thousands of dollars” to buy the trademark, which was registered in 2002. The group had wanted to open The Bach bar in Tauranga, but needed to secure the name first.
“When you register a trademark, unless you enforce it, essentially it becomes unenforceable,” he said. “Then, you lose all your rights to your intellectual property and whatever time and money you’ve invested is wasted.”
Thompson said Christchurch restaurant The Bach, in Southshore, was entering into a licensing agreement with Frenzi.