Taronga Zoo may be losing its unofficial title Sydney Zoo

Taronga Zoo may be losing its unofficial title Sydney Zoo as a rival has lodged a trademark application over it.

Next time when you search Sydney Zoo online to purchase tickets, or use GPS to find the best route there, you will probably want to be careful as you might just end up in the wrong place.

Taronga Zoo is located in Mosman overlooking the Sydney Harbor. It was officially opened in 1916, and with over 1.5 million visitors a year, the long-established and well-known zoo is widely regarded as the Sydney Zoo; the hashtag #sydneyzoo on Instagram is even used by its visitors.

However, as Sydney Zoo is not a trademark, operators of a planned zoo in Blacktown sought out the Sydney Zoo trademark in May 2015. Taronga Zoo opposed the registration relying heavily on Internet data and arguing that it had been frequently referred to as the Sydney Zoo online. If successful, Taronga Zoo’s motion could prevent the title from being ‘stolen’. 

The Australian Trade Mark Office, IP Australia, ruled in January that Taronga Zoo ‘failed to establish any of the grounds of opposition it nominated’ – mere fact that the term Sydney Zoo was frequently used to refer to Taronga Zoo was not sufficient to prove that the term was used as a trademark. The decision is currently being challenged by Taronga Zoo.  

Taronga Zoo has launched proceedings in the Federal Court suing the rival operator for misleading and deceptive conduct. The preliminary hearing was held on 6 March.

The potential loss of such a valuable title hopefully has made Taronga Zoo and other companies realize the risk of not having their name and titles trademarked.