Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

Ban on Boobies: Business trademarks term ‘Boobie’ forcing others to rebrand

The word “boobie” has caused a legal stoush in the breastfeeding business community with one player trademarking the term and forcing at least one other to rebrand.

This month legal letters were exchanged and social media battle lines were drawn after The Lactation Station founder Renee Ball trademarked the word “boobie”.

The move has upset Beheshta Ali – the founder of My Boobie Bag – who said she can no longer use the word and will have to rename her new business.

Ali claims The Lactation Station only applied to trademark the word after she emailed through a wholesale order.

But Ball said she had been planning to trademark the word since the start of the year.

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Ali’s small business My Boobie Bag provides kits to mums with information and products to support breastfeeding.

The business began trading in April 2021. In September Ali said she sent a wholesale order to The Lactation Station because she wanted to stock their cookies in her bags.

“There were numerous emails back and forth prior to us placing our order and discussing what products were most popular and best suited for My Boobie Bag,” Ali said.

The goods were received at the end of the month and Ali said she was excited to include the biscuits in her bags. She had professional photographs taken for her website and social media pages.

But on October 18 she said she received an email to say The Lactation Station had released its own Boobie Bag in June 2021 and that the business had been advised to trademark all their products.

The acceptance of the trademark meant no one else can use the term Boobie in their business or branding.

Ball’s business is in lactation biscuits, mixtures and teas for breastfeeding mums.

She said boobie is a term she has used in her brands and packaging since 2015 with products such as Boobie Brew tea, Boobie Balm nipple cream, and Boobie Booster protein powder.

A search of the Applied Marks NZ website shows the terms Boobie Bars, Boobie Blends and Boobie Balm were accepted as trademarked in July 2021.

The terms Boobie Biscuits, Boobie Breakfast, Boobie Box and My Boobie Bag and Boobie were accepted in October 2021.

Ball said a courtesy email was sent to My Boobie Bag but it was only when Ali opposed the trademark and said she was applying for her own trademark that Ball asked her lawyer to take over communication.

Ball said anyone else trademarking the word boobie would affect too many of her products.

Ball said the move was never made to undermine anyone else’s business but only to protect her brand and was made after legal advice.

“Just like Yellow Pages owns Yellow and Hello Fresh owns Hello I was advised by an intellectual property lawyer to trademark the word boobie,” Ball said.

“It was accepted.”

Ball said she never wanted to upset anyone.

She said people had attacked her on social media, which she said was tough because unlike big businesses like Hello Fresh it was her, her mother, and one part-time worker behind the brand.

“From a business perspective, it was me adding value and protection to my brand. I have been using the term Boobie Biscuits since 2015 and I went into more products.

“Every product in my range has the word boobie in it and I had a Boobie Bag before I even knew My Boobie Bag existed.”

Ali said she is in the process of giving away all of her My Boobie Bag branded products tothe postpartum charity Bare and has already trademarked her new business name.

“It is a real shame for me because My Boobie Bag was really special to me – it wasn’t just a name but it meant a lot.”

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