Co-operative Bank says association’s ‘Co-op’ rebranding would lead to confusion.
A brand stoush between the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions and a bank is a "fight for all co-operatives", says the industry body's chief executive.
Co-operative Bank yesterday applied for an interim injunction in the High Court at Auckland as part of its attempt to stop the NZACU changing its name to Co-op Money NZ.
The NZACU, which represents co-operatively owned credit unions and building societies, announced its intention to rebrand in June.
But Co-op Bank lawyer Zane Kennedy argued in court yesterday there were similarities between the two names which would cause confusion.
While "co-operative" was descriptive, Kennedy told Justice Raynor Asher the name "The Co-operative Bank" had become distinctive.
Kennedy said his client was not alleging or claiming the monopoly of "co-operative" as a word.
No one else in the financial services sector had traded under "co-operative" or included "co-operative" in their brand since Co-op Bank changed its name from PSIS in 2011, he told the judge.
Co-op Bank had spent $8.7 million on marketing since then.
"As a consequence the plaintiff has generated reputational goodwill."
NZACU opposed the interim injunction yesterday and its chief executive Henry Lynch told the Herald it was a fight "for all co-operatives in New Zealand".
He said it didn't feel right for the bank to lay claim to the word co-operative.
"If you're a co-operative and you can't call yourself one, what can you call yourself?" Lynch asked.
Lynch said the NZACU now included building societies and the planned rebrand was part of it becoming more modern.
Justice Asher reserved his decision.
What's in a name
Changed its name in 2011 from PSIS, which launched in 1928.
Has 128,000 customers across the country.
Net profit in the year to March 31 rose to $7.1m from $5.7m 12 months earlier.
Formed in 1961 but wants to rebrand as Co-op Money NZ.
As at June it represented 22 co-operatively owned credit unions and mutual building societies.
Its unions or societies have more than 200,000 members and have over $1.3b in assets.