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New South Wales-based Community First Credit Union has won a hard-fought trademark case against the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Community First Credit Union successfully applied to the Federal Court to revoke a long-held monopoly over the use of the term “community bank” by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. Justice Brigitte Markovic held that Bendigo and Adelaide Bank had been unsuccessful in adapting its trademarks to distinguish its services from the ordinary signification or meaning that was directly descriptive of the services Bendigo and Adelaide Bank provided.

The Community First Credit Union was represented by Sparke Helmore.

Shannon Platt, Partner, Sparke Helmore Lawyers, who ran the Federal Court proceedings for the Community First Credit Union, said, “We are proud to have represented Community First Credit Union in this landmark case. We approached this matter in a Banking Royal Commission environment, mindful of doing our best to ensure our client would be able to drive commercial success into the future unimpeded by any restriction on using “bank”, “community bank”, and “community banking” to describe its business.

“This was about Community First Credit Union being able to use the descriptive terms “community bank” and “community banking” to connect its business to the community it serves. This is a win, not just for Community First Credit Union, but for credit unions, co-operatives and mutuals alike. It is a great result all round!”

Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, congratulated the Community First Credit Union on winning its case and having the ability finally to describe its business model for what it is—real community banking.

About Sparke Helmore

We’ve come a long way since our doors first opened in the Hunter in 1882. We’ve had an office in Sydney since the ‘60s and we recently opened our ninth office in Darwin.

We cover five key areas of law – Corporate & Commercial, Commercial Insurance, Government, Statutory Lines of Insurance and Workplace – with more than 30 specialised areas of expertise. We’re a truly national, full service and proudly Australian firm that delivers results through deep collaboration with our clients. Wherever our clients need us, that’s where we’ll be.

Covering a big country needs a big team—we’re more than 950 people now and still growing. And in true Australian spirit, we’re friendly, approachable and easy to work with. And when you work with one of us, you get the expertise of all of us.

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