Mr Whippy: A name worth fighting for

Article written by: Sue Ironside    |   Thursday 19th September 2013

Tired of sprinting after the Mr Whippy truck to get a scoop of soft serve? There is now a stationary way to enjoy the treat. The company has set up a standalone kiosk in Henderson and more are expected to open throughout the country in the coming months.

Unexpectedly, however, the new venture is causing some sticky problems. Mr Whippy has discovered an Auckland store operating under their brand. While the store owner claims he has a licence agreement allowing him to do so until 2014, Mr Whippy insists that the agreement expired last year and consumers are being deceived into thinking there is still a connection between the businesses.

The Mr Whippy brand has established a valuable and significant reputation in New Zealand. Both parties know that it a trusted and iconic sign post that ice cream lovers flock to when they are in need of something cold and sweet. Certainly, Mr Whippy is a name worth fighting for.

Steering clear of a rocky road!

The dispute highlights the importance of a comprehensive licensing agreement. When skilfully constructed, a license becomes an extremely effective strategy of commercialisation, creating a partnership between the intellectual property owner and a party who pays to use that property in accordance with specific terms and conditions. Agreements come in a range of shapes and sizes but issues such as payment, termination, party obligations and liability are generally provided for.

Licences can be crucial in gaining a competitive edge and suit a variety of situations. For trade mark owners, licensing spreads brand recognition, while maintaining control over the quality of goods and services offered under the trade mark. Robust and comprehensive agreements which adapt to future developments, and are readily enforceable, enhance commercial dealings and support mutually beneficial relationships. If these strategies do not ensure adequate protection, the exclusivity and reputation of a brand can be eroded, causing a loss in value.

If you want to expand the range of opportunities to protect and commercialise your intangible assets, come and talk to us at Baldwins. Our experts will ensure that you don’t suffer a case of whiplash like Mr Whippy has.

This article was written with assistance from Lucy Hopman.

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