A women's startup group will fight Sony Pictures Television in Australia over its right to own the words "Dolphin Tank".
Enterprises is a US-based non-profit which funds women-led startups and
has raised more than $10 billion to invest in women-led businesses over
the past two decades. According to IP Australia filings, Springboard —
which has an Australian arm — applied to have the logo for its Dolphin
Tank program registered with trademark protections last year.
Tank sessions allow female entrepreneurs to prepare pitches to a live
audience, and the program runs at corporate events around the world.
than the cut-throat pitching environment portrayed in the television
show, Shark Tank, Dolphin Tank takes a softer approach with friendly
advice and insights to help accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial
companies led by women.
The Dolphin Tank registration was opposed
by Sony Pictures Television, which argued to IP Australia at the start
of the year that the mark should not be allowed to be owned.
is claiming the Dolphin Tank mark is "substantially identical or
deceptively similar" to existing trademarks and "similar to a trademark
which has acquired a reputation in Australia".
Sony owns a number of trademarks in Australia including for the TV show, Pyramid, and logos relating to the Sci-Fi network.
also owns the trademarks to the entrepreneur pitch TV show, Shark Tank,
which aired on the Ten Network in Australia until 2018.
At the end of February, Springboard told IP Australia it intended to oppose the motion.
Both parties declined to comment further on the case, saying it was an ongoing legal issue.
While uncommon, this is not the first time this year that global brands registered opposition to trademarks in Australia.
seller Baby Bunting is facing an objection from information security
giant BlackBerry over its attempts to lodge trademarks for its new
According to IP Australia, there are more than 70,000
applications for trademarks filed each year in Australia and opposition
rates sit at less than 5 per cent.
However, cases like these have
prompted warnings from legal experts about the time it can take for
marks to be approved and the potential complexity and cost that comes if
your logo faces an objection.
"It is expensive if it happens.
It's not the opposition process that is expensive, but rather what is
the most expensive is that you're committing to a brand that has then
been opposed," said the director of commercial law firm Aspect Legal,
She said some smaller operators just went "willy
nilly" with trademark applications without getting experts to help them
search for all possible oppositions which might cross their paths.
at intellectual property law firm Davies Collison Cave, Adam Sears,
said companies should be cautious with their applications but remember
many objections were resolved before they went to court.
trademark applications are not opposed, but oppositions do come up
fairly regularly. The majority of oppositions filed are often settled by
agreement at an early stage and before a hearing," he said.
owners must be prepared for the oppositions that might emerge because
these could come from both local competitors and overseas giants, Mr
"I think the important thing for any business before
they launch a new brand is to get appropriate research done and advice
[first] — to me, that's the take-home," he said.