06 January 2016
by Misa Han

'Pommiebasher' too offensive to be a business name

The business name "pommiebasher" cannot be registered because it may be offensive to some people if the word is taken out of the sporting rivalry context between Australia and England, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found.

A sports merchandise business tried to register the business name "pommiebasher" but the Australian Securities and Investments Commission had refused in 2013 because it considered the name to be offensive.

The business then tried to get the name approved by Mathias Cormann's office while he was acting as Assistant Treasurer, who also rejected the registration.

The business sells Pommiebasher-branded merchandises such as T-shirts, beer and stubbie holders on pommiebasher.com.

On its Facebook page the business says they are "here to celebrate the unique rivalry and camaraderie of the Aussies and the Brits, and everyone else in sports".

It also defines "pommiebasher" to mean "an Australian who participates in good-natured ribbing of the English".

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal found against the business, saying the word "pommiebasher" was likely to be offensive to a section of the public and should not be registered.

'Affectionate' in a sporting context Senior member Egon Fice said in a sporting context the word "pommiebasher" may be used with "affectionate intent", particularly among cricket followers.

The word "pommiebasher" is already registered as a trademark for clothing and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

However, unlike the trademark categories which were readily associated with sporting events, a business name has a much wider audience and in the absence of the sporting context the word may be offensive to some people, Mr Fice said.

"That has a much wider audience application and particularly exposure to persons who are not necessarily followers of cricket or rugby, or who do not understand the way in which the colloquial expression is frequently used," he said.

"Devoid of the cricketing or sporting context, I find that the expression pommiebasher is likely to be offensive to members of a section of the public."

Previously, the advertising regulator Advertising Standards Board found the word "pom" in advertising was generally acceptable as a term with affectionate overtones, but banned an ad which portrayed poms as whingers and did not draw on the traditional sporting rivalry between Australian and England.

The applicant, Peter Hanlon, is described as a Melbourne-based "sports journalist" with a particular interest in cricket.

The Age senior sports writer Peter Hanlon said he was not the person who applied for the business name to be registered.