Vasse Virgin wins trademark stoush

2015-08-14
Declan Bush
AUGUSTA MARGARET RIVER TIMES  ————————————————

Wilyabrup olive oil business Vasse Virgin has won the legal battle to trademark its name, ending a two-year fight with Sir Richard Branson's multinational Virgin Group.
 

In a statement released yesterday, Vasse Virgin announced the Virgin Group had withdrawn its opposition to their trademark, which was approved by Intellectual Property Australia.
 

The result follows a drawn-out legal stoush with corporate entity Virgin Enterprises Limited over use of the "virgin" name, which saw the company mired in negotiations since 2013.
 

The business traded as Vasse Virgin since 2009, but VEL opposed its attempt to renew the trademark in 2012 on the grounds consumers would confuse the brands.
 

Vasse Virgin managing director Edwina Scherini said she was relieved at the outcome.
 

"We were always hopeful that someone in VEL would eventually take a deep breath and have some regard for the common good," she said.
 

"That our olive oil business in regional WA did not really pose a threat to its airline and other global businesses."
 

Ms Scherini said the battle caused a "considerable interruption and cost" to the business.
 

"Sir Richard (Branson) has deeper pockets, and we knew that sometimes might can prevail over right," she said.
 

Ms Scherini said thousands of customers and businesses supported the business on social media and wrote letters of support.
 

She said staff "resolved to fight to the end".
 

In its statement, the company thanked its supporters and customers.
 

"Your support forced Virgin back to the negotiations table and an agreement was reached, resulting in Virgin removing their opposition to our application and the trademark being registered," the statement said.
 

Ms Scherini said it would be "nice to get back to utilising all of our efforts on building the business".
 

The Times first reported on the trademark battle in May.
 

At the time, Virgin Group Asia Pacific brand public relations and digital communications manager Elizabeth Gain said her company's opposition related to the "very broad range of goods and services" covered by the trademark, and not its connection to the use of olive oil products.
 

Ms Gain said the group was pleased to have reached a mutual agreement and wished Vasse Virgin the best for the future.