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Megan Richardson, Julian Thomas and Jill Klein

Trade mark law is often thought of as concerned with trade and commerce. But it is also rooted in history and culture. This chapter considers the examples of nostalgia labels ‘Oomoo’ and ‘Oro’ registered as trade marks for wine and coffee on the basis that the words may mean ‘good’ in Dieri and ‘gold’ in Italian but not in any ‘ordinary signification’ in Australia. The chapter argues that the legal treatment of identifying labels for commodities such as wine and coffee in Australia is a product of a cultural trade mark law policy dating back to the height of the British Empire and endorsed in this country’s post-war ‘White Australia’ period. It questions whether the Australian trade marks register should passively reflect inherited cultural tensions and proposes instead that the rules governing trade mark registration should be part of a thoroughly modern cultural and economic trade mark law policy.