New Zealand’s biggest online discount clothing store, Lastseason.co.nz, has been in the middle of controversy this week when they were served a legal demand to stop using the term “jandals” on their website, when they were selling their … umm… jandals!
It turns out that someone by the name Baron Sandford, director of Sanford Industries Ltd, owns the trademark “Jandal” – a name which New Zealanders have long used to describe what we’re now supposed to call “flip-flops” or “thongs” according to Baron.
Jeremy Mould, Director of Lastseason.co.nz, protests at the suggestion to use words other than “jandal”. “Anything other than jandal, everyone will that we’re not Kiwis and that’s our point of difference. We are Kiwis and we are in New Zealand,” Jeremy told the Waikato Times.
As Kiwis we can easily understand his problem. Call them “Flip-flops”, like most of the world do, and we feel we’ve lost a part of our kiwi identity. Call them “thongs” and we’ve taken another small step towards becoming part of Australia. And there’s good reason not to call them “thongs”. Here in NZ, like most of the world, if you walk up to a woman in summer and compliment her on her thong, she won’t think you were looking at her feet!
Jeremy told the Waikato Times, “We asked if we could pay them to use the word and he just said: No, you’re not to use it.” That certainly seems like a strange response, considering that Baron doesn’t seem to have an official product called “Jandals” but instead calls them “Jongs” and sell them at jongs.co.nz.
Other companies that have been issued with infringement notices in the past include The Warehouse and Havaianas. But The Warehouse seems to have resolved their dispute with Baron, as their website now clearly lists a wide range of products as “Jandals”.
Which makes it all the stranger that Lastseason.co.nz’s request of paying to use the name was met with a blunt “no”.
As with many disputes like this, the victim can often turn the situation around and generate some positive publicity for their own company. In this situation Jeremy of LastSeason.co.nz has done this perfectly, capturing the nationwide attention of mainstream media, giving a massive boost to their existing online marketing, for their large “not jandals” sale – $9.99 for 2 pair of “not jandals”. Well done Jeremy.