Digital Post cleared of trademark infringement

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Digital Post cleared of trademark infringement

Australia Post loses key battle.

Australia Post has failed in its bid to halt a rival digital mailbox service in court over claims of trademark infringement and an attempted "cash in" on the postal giant's name.

Federal Court Justice Shane Marshall cleared Digital Post Australia, a joint venture between Computershare and Salmat, of infringing on Australia Post's name on Friday, clearing a major legal hurdle to the service's launch later this year.

It was a second defeat for the Government enterprise, after it lost an interlocutory attempt in April to prevent Digital Post from trading.

Australia Post and Digital Post are set to launch rival services offering consumers the ability to receive electronic versions of bills and specific documents from banks, utilities and other authorised providers.

Justice Marshall found no "real, tangible danger of deception or confusion" between the company names.

"[Australia Post] is not yet associated in the minds of potential customers with the provision of digital mail," he said in a judgment.

"The potential audience for digital mail services is likely to be technologically competent and internet savvy.

"It is difficult to imagine that anyone who is competent with computer technology will have any doubt that Digital Post Australia is separate and distinct from Australia Post."

He found "no intention" on Digital Post's part to "cash in" on Australia Post's reputation.

"I do not believe that the ordinary consumer might be caused to wonder whether the digital mail services proposed to be operated by DPA come from the same source as the digital mail service proposed to be offered by Australia Post," he said.

Evidence given to the court during proceedings by Digital Post Australia, code-named "Project Bumblebee", suggested that some names considered for the service sounded "too much like a government service", while the eventual name was deemed trustworthy.

The company had also sought legal advice from law firm Middletons as to the potential for legal action from Australia Post. The firm suggested that any such action taken by the government department "should not ultimately succeed".

Digital Post chairman David Hynes said in a statement Monday that he company was pleased with the decision.

A spokeswoman for Australia Post said it was considering the decision and a potential appeal "to prevent third parties from using an Australian owned, trusted brand for their commercial gain".

Australia Post has signed an in-principle agreement with AMP as one authorised provider for the secure mail service, while establishing Telstra as infrastructure host for the digital service.

Digital Post, on the other hand, will use mail provider Zumbox to serve the digital mail "later this year".

It is yet to announce any customers but company chairman David Hynes has previously said the company had secured an "operating data centre" while "talking to the mailers and aggregators for more than a year".

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