COVID-19 – Adapting to change in a time of crisis
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COVID-19 – Adapting to change in a time of crisis

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COVID-19 prevention concept: Human hands holding earth globe with medical disposable face mask. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

COVID-19 has changed the way we live, communicate and do business. In this time of drastic change and upheaval, innovative entrepreneurs and businesses across the world have used this opportunity to redefine ordinary business practices and bring new products and services to the market. New Zealand is no exception.

COVID-19 trademark filings

As new business opportunities have presented themselves, several new trademarks have entered the market. New Zealand has seen a spike in COVID-19 related trademark applications, especially from local applicants.

Unsurprisingly, some have taken advantage of the crisis by filing trademark applications for "COVID-19" or "Coronavirus". In New Zealand, several such applications have been filed, including:

  • "I survived COVID-19" covering clothing in Class 25 and advertising in Class 35

  • "COVID-19 2020" covering clothing in Class 25 and retail services in Class 35

  • "NEW ZEALAND 100 percent COVID free" covering clothes in Class 25 and advertising in Class 35

  • "Anti-Covid19" covering sanitisers; antibacterial sprays; antibacterial pharmaceuticals in Class 5

These applications are still under examination, and are likely to encounter objections from the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on the basis the trademarks are descriptive, non-distinctive or are contrary to public policy.

Several domain names incorporating the word COVID have also been registered, including covid.nz, covid.co.nz, covid.geek.nz and covid.org.nz. There are, as of yet, no operational websites attached to these domain names.

New opportunities in a time of global upheaval

COVID-19 has caused a sharp rise in the demand for a broad range of consumer goods, including cleaning products, canned food, baking ingredients, personal protective gear and disinfectants. As quarantine measures have severely disrupted supply chains, there is also a new demand for different foodstuffs and locally produced products.

Benefitting from the campaign to "buy local", New Zealand businesses have ramped up the production and development of food, personal protective gear, digital services and other quarantine-related commodities. Since December 2019, more than 2,000 New Zealand trademarks have been filed for food, more than 300 for anti-bacterial products, and more than 600 for masks.

The New Zealand government has supported this effort, providing local businesses with a $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. An additional $12 billion has been invested in significant infrastructure projects under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.

In many places, however, the situation remains serious, both for businesses and individuals. In this time of fear and isolation, remaining hopeful about the future can be difficult.

Nevertheless, many New Zealand businesses have reopened their doors, and some have embraced the opportunity to innovate and to adapt in this time of crisis. All in all, it looks like New Zealand is back in business.

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