Who owns 'Up the Wahs'?

14 September 2023

‘Up the Wahs’ has been sweeping the nation as the Warriors have had one of their most successful seasons in over a decade. But ownership of the phrase was called into question when the Warriors applied to register it as a trade mark, only to find craft beer brewing company Good George had beaten them to it.

On 23 August, Somerset Brewing Company Limited (trading as Good George) applied to register ‘Up the Wahs’ under classes 32 and 33 in relation to a suite of non alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Just over a week later on 1 September, New Zealand Warriors Limited (Warriors) also applied to register ‘Up the Wahs’ under classes 32 and 33, amongst others. This set the stage for a dispute over who is the rightful owner of the now ubiquitous catchphrase.

Good George has since withdrawn its application, avoiding a dispute and paving the way for the Warriors to continue with its application.

However, if both applications were left to run their usual course, IPONZ would examine Good George’s application first and accept it, assuming no issues are raised with the application. IPONZ would then likely block the Warriors’ application for classes 32 and 33.

The Warriors could oppose Good George’s application, at which point both parties would argue with IPONZ over who has rights to the phrase. It is a costly process and can take a year or more to resolve.

This is a good reminder to take care when adopting branding associated with another business without permission. Get in touch with us if you have any questions about trade marks or would like assistance with trade mark registration.

Aaron Young is part of our Corporate & Commercial team at Norris Ward McKinnon.

Corporate & Commercial Team