Queenstown Taxis demands upstart rival change its name

Queenstown’s largest cab company’s threatened a newcomer with legal action over its name — and alleged misrepresentation and poaching.

In a lawyer’s letter sighted by Mountain Scene, Queenstown Taxis is demanding NZ QT Taxi Ltd change its ‘‘confusingly similar’’ brand and company name.

Queenstown Taxis — which also has ‘QT Taxis’ for a brand name and ‘QT Taxi’ for its 0800 number — is also demanding it ‘‘immediately cease’’ informing the public it’s affiliated with it, and ‘‘immediately cease’’ poaching its customers.

If the new company didn’t provide written undertakings by February 8, the established company ‘‘may issue proceedings without further notice to you’’.

Queenstown Taxis, the letter says, had ‘‘invested considerable time, effort and cost in establishing its brand ‘Queenstown Taxis’ and ‘QT Taxis’ in relation to its offering of taxi services to both domestic and international clientele’’.

And it had acquired significant goodwill and positive standing in the community since its inception 60-plus years ago.

The lawyer states: ‘‘We consider that your behaviour and use of our client’s brand constitutes the common law tort of passing off, a breach of the Fair Trading Act (FTA) 1986 and may constitute an infringement of our client’s Trade Mark under the Trade Marks Act 2002.’’

The lawyer also warns NZ QT Taxi ‘‘informing the public that you are affiliated to our client is misrepresentation under law’’.

‘We are definitely looking at legal options’

‘‘It is intended to confuse and misdirect our client’s customers to your services.

‘‘You have been unfairly benefiting by piggybacking off our client’s years of hard work.

‘‘Our client has suffered a loss due to your actions, which we consider are a clear breach of the common law tort of passing off and the FTA …

‘‘We further understand that your drivers have been seen illegally and deliberately poaching our client’s customers.’’

Speaking this week, Queenstown Taxis managing director Grant Scannell says he’s still had no response from his lawyer’s January 25 ‘notice of cease and desist’ to NZ QT Taxi Ltd.

‘Why should people hang on our shirt tails?’: Queenstown Taxis boss Grant Scannell

‘‘We are definitely looking at our legal options.’’

Mountain Scene hadn’t received any reply from NZ QT Taxi by deadline to emailed questions sent early yesterday.

Scannell reiterates he’s heard of customers ‘‘mistaking them for us, just with the close connection with the name, which is understandable’’.

‘‘Why would you go so close to our name unless you were trying to deceive people?

‘‘You look at the other companies that have turned up in town over the years — Yellow Cabs, Green Cabs, Gold Band.

‘‘We’ve never had somebody that’s come with such a close name [to ours] — and the fact we’re having clients say that these guys said they were a part of our company now …

‘‘It’s not good for my guys that have invested a lot of money into our company.

‘‘We’ve been here right through Covid, and we were pretty much the only company that was on the go, still 24/7, during Covid.

‘‘Why should people just hang on our shirt tails coming out the other end?’’

Scannell says he’s got no problem with a new competitor, pointing out he even advertises three rivals (Green Cabs, Corporate Cabs and Arrowtown Taxis) ‘‘in the unlikely event we’re all booked up’’.

Another rival cabbie, speaking anonymously, says the new company’s made up of about 10 drivers who were formerly independent cabbies — colloquially known as ‘scab cabs’.

‘‘They’re all mates and they’re trying to clean up their act a bit, not that they weren’t before, but I know they want to get a good reputation — they probably have better rates than anyone, they’re still going on prices that were relevant a couple of years ago.’’

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