All is not well and good in Roslyn.

A cafe in the Dunedin suburb has been forced to change its name after a threat of legal action from the United States.

The experience has left the owners wondering how to choose a name for a business when almost every name seems to be taken.

The couple decided to change the name of the cafe to Project Wellness. Photo / via video
The couple decided to change the name of the cafe to Project Wellness. Photo / via video

Amy and Andrew Hou say a small business like theirs had no chance of winning against corporates.


Mr Hou said the couple opened the cafe Well + Good in the Roslyn village next to their Roslyn Pharmacy in May last year.

They applied for trademarks and ''that's what alerted them to the whole thing''.

In September the couple received ''a very legal letter from America that put us on our heels''.

''That obviously caused us a little bit of anxiety.''

Well + Good is a lifestyle and health website, and the legal company said it had users in New Zealand, meaning the cafe of the same name would create confusion.

The legal firm also asked the couple to remove their logo, despite it having no similarity to the US company.

''They said they'd pursue legal action if we didn't do what they asked,'' Mrs Hou said.

''We ignored the letter, hoped it would go away, as you do.''

The legal company eventually put in an objection on the trademark.

The couple looked into what could be done legally to fight back, but ''after a few thousand dollars later just disappearing we decided we weren't going to win this'', Mrs Hou said.

Some signage, stationery and social media accounts had already been set up under the name Well + Good.

''It's quite an expensive exercise.''

In the end they changed the name to Project Wellness.

Mrs Hou said the couple did receive $2000 from the company after she asked for a contribution to costs, though that had not covered what they had lost.

Mr Hou said people should try ''as a fun exercise'' to name something with a name that had not already been used.

''You Google anything and it all comes up.

''Everything has already been thought of.''

The ''well and good'' name was used by others, including New Zealand reality television stars Art Green and Matilda Rice, who have a podcast called Well & Good with Art & Matilda.

''You just can't name anything any more because it's all gone.

''I just think unfortunately the little people can't take on the big people in a corporate world,'' Mrs Hou said.