Avoid These Royal Mistakes When Registering Your Trade Mark

On the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022, Prince Charles automatically became the King of New Zealand. All of the functions, duties, powers, authorities, rights, privileges, and dignities belonging to the Crown transferred to the new King1.

The Coronation of King Charles III, formerly known as The Prince of Wales, and The Queen Consort will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6th May 2023 (GMT)2.

While many people and businesses may wish to mark the Coronation in some way, it is necessary to exercise some caution in how you promote your business and goods or services. 

Before using words or imagery that link your business or goods and services to the new King or Royal family, you need to be mindful that there are restrictions on such use.

Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 (Flags & Emblems Act)

Under the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 (Flags & Emblems Act) it is an offence to publically use in connection with any business, trade, or occupation particular words or statements or to carry on business under such names and titles.  While the legislation currently refers to Her Majesty, every reference to the Sovereign in any instrument in force is read to include a reference to the Sovereign's heirs and successors.

Under section 14(3) of the Flags & Emblems Act3, it is an offence to use the word Royal, or word or statement that claims or implies the patronage of Her Majesty or other member of the Royal Family, which includes His Majesty, without authority of the Governor-General.

It is also an offence under section 12 of the Flags & Emblems Act4 to display, exhibit or use the following representations without consent of the Governor-General:

  • the Coat of Arms of Her Majesty or any other member of the Royal Family:
  • any Royal crown or Royal coronet or Royal cypher or Royal badge:
  • the Royal Standard, or the Sovereign’s personal flag for New Zealand:

If you are interested in using the above terms or representations, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has guidelines as to use and requirements for consent5

Trade Marks Act 2002

As the use of such terms and representations would be contrary to the Flags & Emblems Act the registration of such terms and representations as trade marks would give rise to an objection under section 17(1)(b) of the Trade Marks Act 2002. 

If seeking to register such terms as a trade mark, IPONZ will require consent from the Governor-General before accepting such a trade mark for registration. 

The Coronation is a historic and once in a lifetime event (for many of us). While a celebration may be in order, take care that you do not inadvertently commit an offence under the Flags & Emblems Act or run into trouble with registering your trade mark under the Trade Marks Act.

Elena Szentiványi - April 2023


1 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

2 The Royal Family website

Flags & Emblems Act, s14(3)

Flags & Emblems Act, s12

5 Ministry for Culture and Heritage - Royal Guidelines

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