Game – Set – Match: the trade mark battle between Australian tennis champion, Thanasi Kokkinakis and ‘Special K’

Game – Set – Match: the trade mark battle between Australian tennis champion, Thanasi Kokkinakis and ‘Special K’

It has been all over the news. The trade mark battle between Thanasi Kokkinakis and Kelloggs Company (the owner of the ‘Special K’ trade mark) has not only provided light entertainment for the Australian media, it has opened up discussion on the importance of trade mark protection.

Back in 2015, the Australian tennis champion attempted to re-brand himself as ‘Special K’

However, when Kokkinakis applied to register a trade mark over the name, his application was vehemently opposed by Kelloggs. Kelloggs argued that Kokkinakis’ application constituted trade mark infringement and on that basis, should be denied (no matter how “special” the tennis star claims to be!).

This case has offered a timely reminder about the value and importance of trade marks. It also provides an apt example of how trade mark legislation applies, and what can happen if an existing trade mark is infringed.

The ‘Special K’ Case

Kelloggs first registered a trade mark over the words ‘Special K’ in August 1958 for ‘breakfast foods and other cereal foods’, ‘cereal bars’ and the like.

Almost 60 years later, TJ Kokkinakis Pty Ltd lodged its application to register a trade mark over the words ‘Special K’ in the classes for sporting clothing (class 25), sporting apparatuses (class 28) and sporting competitions (class 41).

Briefly, Kelloggs argued that Kokkinakis’ trade mark was too similar to its registered trade mark, and that given the significance of the ‘Special K’ cereal reputation, the use of the words ‘Special K’ in combination with Kokkinakis’ career was likely to cause confusion or deceive the public. Kelloggs argued this point by providing evidence that it has promoted its Special K brand coupled with sport, health and fitness related promotional campaigns in the past.

Ultimately, the Australian Trade Marks Office rejected Kelloggs’ opposition to the trade mark application and held that even though Special K has a significant reputation throughout Australia, it failed to prove that Kokkinakis’ use of the words ‘Special K‘ would deceive and cause confusion amongst the public.

Kelloggs has since applied to appeal the decision in the Federal Court. Following the recent directions hearing, the case has now been sent to a mediation conference and is set to return to the Federal Court on 31 August this year.

Trade Mark Infringement Generally

Although Kokkinakis was not found to have infringed Kelloggs’ trade mark, it is useful to understand what constitutes trade mark infringement, and how you can avoid it.

Generally, trade mark infringement occurs when a person uses as a trade mark a sign that is substantially identical with, or deceptively similar to, a registered trade mark for goods or services that are closely related or of the same description. Occasionally, a ’well known‘ registered trade mark may be infringed by the use of a similar mark on dissimilar goods or services.

Another recent case involving Qantas and its battle to protect its iconic kangaroo image also highlights the importance of not only registering trade marks, but ensuring they cover all of your goods and services.

In that case, Qantas was unsuccessful in its application to prevent another company from using a similar kangaroo image on its designer clothing. Qantas’ trade mark was not registered for clothing and was therefore not protected. While ultimately, the court held that the mark on the clothing was not similar enough to that of Qantas, life would have been much easier for Qantas if it had better trade mark protection.

Qantas has since submitted further trade mark applications to broaden its protection of its marks to clothing and other goods and services.

Other ways to prevent trade mark infringement

The penalties for trade mark infringement can be quite severe. Particularly where a brand may be a company’s most valuable asset, re-branding as a result of trade mark infringement can be very expensive and risk losing significant goodwill.

As a preliminary step, before you start using a new brand, a trade mark search should always be conducted to ensure that your trade mark is not too similar to earlier trade marks. Searches of other databases, such as business and company names, are also prudent.

For example, early last year, Nestle won its battle against a small business owner for “accidentally” infringing its ‘Musahi’ trade mark. The small business owner started an online vitamin business known as ‘A-Sashi’ with a registered business name, domain name, and used a logo incorporating the name. Nestle argued the names were deceptively similar. The Federal Court ordered the cancellation of A-Sashi’s business name and domain name.

If the small business owner had conducted a preliminary trade mark search, the outcome in this case could have been much different.

Trade Mark Registration

Once all initial searches have been conducted, the next step is to register your trade mark.

Registering your trade mark is the only way to secure proprietary rights to a name or logo. A business name is not a trade mark. There are various strategies and approaches to consider when registering and securing a trade mark.

For example, it is important that your proposed trade mark is distinctive rather than descriptive. If a trade mark is not distinctive, it is more difficult to obtain registration and stop other businesses from using a similar mark. Whether a trade mark is descriptive may also depend on the nature of the goods and services in question. For instance, the word ’apple‘ describes apples or apple trees but not digital products.

Similarly, a trade mark cannot create a monopoly right over a word or phrase that other traders may wish to genuinely use in the ordinary course of their business. For example, in 2015, Chemist Warehouse alleged that Direct Chemist Outlet infringed its registered trade mark over the phrase, “Is this Australia’s Cheapest Chemist?.”. The Federal Court found that the trade mark slogan was not valid because it was merely descriptive and did not meet the distinctiveness requirements.


Properly and accurately registering a trade mark is vital in preventing incidents of trade mark infringement and protecting your business’ names and brands.

That said, you must at the outset, look before you leap! (i.e. conduct availability and clearance searches).

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to further discuss your intellectual property rights and responsibilities with us.

This article was written by Malcolm McBratney, Principal and Teneille Meyer, Graduate Lawyer


World Intellectual Property Day

World Intellectual Property Day

Today is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day!

World IP Day is celebrated every year on the 26th of April. It recognises the important role intellectual property rights play in innovation and creativity today.

The mechanisms utilised to protect intellectual property (such as patents, trade marks and copyright) have allowed and fostered incredible innovations. There is now a billboard in Peru that harvests water from the air and supplies the local community with clean drinking water. There is a 3D-printer at an American university that regenerates damaged human tissue. There are now even batteries in China that charge mobile phones in minutes. Without the mechanisms available to protect intellectual property and foster creativity and innovation, these inventions would likely not exist today.

In addition to celebrating innovation, World IP Day is also a good excuse to reflect upon how the proper protection of intellectual property should be a key agenda item and strategy for all businesses in the current corporate environment.

The below table provides a comparison of the world’s most valuable brands today with the most valuable brands 30 years ago.

Most valuable five brands in 1986: Most valuable five brands in 2016:
1.  General Motors Apple
2.  Exxon Mobile Google
3.  Mobil Microsoft
4.  Ford Motor Coca Cola
5.  International Business Machines Facebook


Savvy readers will note, the top five companies have shifted from mostly energy or motor vehicle companies to technology companies.

Given today’s top companies were mostly created and rely on intellectual property, one could say they would not have been as successful without adequate and effective intellectual property protection.

Patent protection, in particular, is one of the most effective mechanisms these top companies utilise to protect their technology.

One of the most famous examples of the effectiveness of patent protection is the invention of WiFi. Today, WiFi is used by millions of businesses and consumers every day. It was invented through the efforts of our very own CSIRO and subsequently patented in 1996.

Although there were a number of competing technologies that existed at the time, WiFi was unique in that its hardware enabled a signal to be transmitted with reduced echo, which preserved signal strength.

CSIRO attempted to convince information technology companies to acquire licenses to use the patented WiFi technology. However, this was initially unsuccessful, with many manufacturers using the design without license.

Ultimately, after a number of lengthy legal battles with some of the worlds most powerful information technology companies, CSIRO successfully secured license agreements with almost 90 percent of the industry. This resulted in an estimated $430 million in revenue from WiFi licence rights as of 2012.

This success would not have been possible if CSIRO did not properly protect the technology in 1996.

Similarly, the success of all of the top five most valuable brands would not have been possible without trade mark protection. The president of Coca Cola often remarks that even if Coca Cola Inc. lost all of its buildings, vehicles, factories and equipment, the company would be able to rebuild itself as long as the trade mark survived. The Coca Cola brand is now estimated to be valued at around $US80 billion.

As these examples show, whether it be through trade marks, patents or copyright protection, properly protecting your IP is vital to the success of your business. Your IP strategy should not only be an important aspect of your broader business plan, it should be a regular agenda item.

With World IP Day being today, consider whether you have an intellectual property strategy and whether your IP is properly protected. In today’s commercial environment, your intellectual property and brands are likely to be your most valuable assets. As Coca Cola and the CSIRO would agree, they are very much worth protecting.

High Court rejects Nurofen tablet manufacturer’s appeal against $6 million penalty

High Court rejects Nurofen tablet manufacturer’s appeal against $6 million penalty

The High Court’s decision to uphold the $6 million penalty against Reckitt Benckiser (Australia) Pty Ltd, the manufacturer of Nurofen tablets, serves as an important reminder for traders to ensure all claims made in their marketing and advertising materials do not extend beyond the capabilities of the goods and services they provide. In particular, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has stated its intention to target large companies that engage in misleading or deceptive conduct towards consumers, and to continue to advocate for higher penalties under the Australian Consumer Law. Considering this, we strongly recommend all such companies review and consider the accuracy of their marketing and promotional materials.

Thanks to Kelly Dickson for this update –

Festival of the Boot (Second Half and Final Quarter) and the Melbourne Cup

In my most recent blog post, I introduced the legal issues to consider when entering into a sponsorship agreement.  With the Melbourne Cup coming up, I continue the discussion below.

Term and termination

It seems such an obvious issue, but what is the term of the sponsorship intended to be? Is it a one year trial, three years or from a sponsor’s perspective, preferably something like an initial three year term with one or two options to extend?


There is of course a price to pay for the grant of such option rights and these financial issues need to be factored into the equation.

Early termination

Perhaps more importantly beyond the obvious term question is in what circumstances can a sponsor terminate the sponsorship early? Does the sponsor want the ability to exit should the sports team not perform in a sporting sense according to an agreed metric? For example if the team finishes in the bottom half or fails to make the finals two years in a row?


What if one or more key players leave? Can the sponsor walk too?

What is somebody is naughty?

One very important term is the ability of a sponsor to terminate the agreement if the team (or more usually one or more members of the team) engage in activities that can cause damage to the sponsor’s brand. Think through the many and varied forms of indiscretions that have befallen sporting stars over the years and then try and think about trying to draft a clause that exhaustively spells these out as grounds of termination. It would be a very long clause and would still be incomplete.


Given this, a more general clause that allows a sponsor to terminate the agreement in circumstances where the team or its members have in the opinion of the sponsor engaged in conduct that has or could damage the sponsor’s brand or bring the sponsor into disrepute is key. Importantly this decision ideally should be “in the opinion of the sponsor” so an attempt to terminate doesn’t descend into an argument about whether the conduct was bad enough.

A sponsor doesn’t want to be debating whether for example the social media comments by player Joe Bloggs are inappropriate or not. The sponsor simply needs the ability to terminate the agreement if in their opinion such conduct damages their brand. Conversely, teams would normally seek to limit such a discretionary right.

Other benefits

Sports sponsorships can take many shapes and forms; however one often seen element is the provision of “talent” from the team for endorsements of the sponsor’s products or services and/or appearances at events for the sponsor. Like anything important, the devil is in the detail. There is significant difference in a clause that says “The team will provide players to attend events.” versus a clause that says “The team will provide the services of players x, y and z to appear at a minimum of four post-game events for a minimum of one hour each during the season.”

The exact specifics of who is to endorse what, what they are to say, what they are to attend, what they wear when attending, do they have to make a speech or just network and more should be specified.


What sports sponsorship is complete without dealing with beer?


A little known term outside of this area of law is the term “pourage rights” – who gets to supply and pour the beer at the footy or sport of choice?! As you might expect this can be a very valuable right! Much like signage rights, it is important for a sponsor to determine who has the rights and ability to grant such rights – is it the venue? Is it the sports league? Is it the team? How do such rights interact with any other sponsorships the team has from competitors of the party holding the pourage or similar rights? Again, some form of rights audit and a comparison with the rights and obligations of the sponsor generally is needed.

Don’t forget about “pie and burger rights” either!


This blog post and its predecessor is a very high level view of a few key issues in sponsorship agreements. There are many more of equal importance and much devil in every detail.

My key message for potential sponsors is to consider in detail their business reasons for the sponsorship, what they are seeking to achieve and then to tailor what they require out of the sponsorship and then record it carefully in the sponsorship agreement. This applies equally to a team taking on a sponsor.

The Festival of the Boot is behind us, yet the football (soccer) continues and cricket season is about to begin. May teams have the success they deserve and may sponsors achieve what they want from their sponsorships!

Malcolm McBratney





The Festival of the Boot, AFL and NRL Grand Finals and key sports sponsorship legal issues

This weekend Australia has seen what is known by many as “The Festival of the Boot”.


The festival kicked off on Saturday when much of the nation watched the Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final between the Western Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans, with the Western Bulldogs emerging the winner.


The Festival of the Boot continued on Sunday with the National Rugby League (NRL)  Grand Final between the Cronulla Sharks and the Melbourne Storm, with the Sharks emerging the winner.


For my American friends, think of a weekend containing both the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup and for my European friends, think of a weekend containing the Premier League grand final and the Ashes.

While for most of us this is an excuse to throw another shrimp on the barbie (hello USA friends!) or more likely some snags and steaks and maybe a lamb roast, for the sponsors of the relevant AFL and NRL leagues and the teams in the finals, this is their most important and most valuable weekend of the year.

Key sponsorship legal issues

So how does a sponsor, make sure they get bang for their buck? When setting out to sponsor a league or a team (or conversely looking to take on a sponsor), what are some of the key legal issues that should be considered?

Are you dealing with the right party?

As a starting point, sponsors must ensure that the party they are dealing with has the relevant rights to offer. The rights available at a whole of league level, differ to those able to be offered by teams which again differ from those able to be offered by the players themselves.

As a starting point it is important to understand which entities or persons own which rights. A rights audit is a useful tool to employ. A rights audit looks at what rights the relevant entity has to offer, what the legal status of those rights is, whether the entity owns the rights or has licence rights only and whether the entity has the legal ability to offer those rights to the sponsor.

Different levels will be able to provide different rights. For example, the relevant league such as the AFL or NRL are the entities able to offer broadcast rights while the league itself, a team or sometimes the venue itself may be able to provide signage rights. Usually a team will be able to offer signage rights at its home ground, but not at other grounds.

Who owns the rights or IP?

It is important to look at ownership and rights to use the IP rights being offered, especially the team brands.  You might think that the premiership winning Western Bulldogs would own their Western Bulldogs trade marks; however a simple trade mark search reveals the trade marks are owned by the AFL itself. As such in dealing with the Bulldogs in a sponsorship deal, a potential sponsor would want to determine what licence rights the Bulldogs is able to offer to the use of their logo and associated IP, given that IP is owned by the AFL.

Are you the only sponsor?

Unlikely! These days it is usual to see a swathe of sponsors for most leagues and teams, so unless you are the only sponsor (and have a contractual right saying so), the level of your sponsorship, whether it is exclusive or not, whether your competitors can also be sponsors and what other lesser or higher sponsors are allowed must be specified.

If you are to be the naming rights sponsor, then the sponsorship contract must spell out in detail what that gives the sponsor. What is the specific name? In what font and format is it used? How is it used and where? Must it always be used in full? (preferably!) The list goes on.

If you are a major sponsor, how many other major sponsors are there? Are you the number one major sponsor or are you all first amongst equals? Do you get your company logo on the left hand upper chest of the jersey in a huge format or is it hidden away on the socks?

Do you get your signage at the grounds midfield or hidden away in a corner?

These and many other specifics need to be considered upfront and specified in the sponsorship agreement. The better the signage, whether on the field or on the players, the more costly the real estate!


Imagine you are a major electricity retailer sponsoring a team. Do you want to see your major electricity competitor sponsoring the team elsewhere on the uniform or at the grounds? Indeed not! A prohibition on the team taking on sponsorship from a competitor (and the definition of who is and isn’t a competitor is a very important issue) is a key provision a potential sponsor should insist on.

What happens if your competitor sponsors the league as a whole or is a personal sponsor of one of the players? How these competing sponsorships interact must also be considered, but is a topic for a separate blog in itself.

This won’t stop ambush marketing (ever seen a Coke advertisement during the ad break when the game is sponsored by Pepsi?), but it will if correctly drafted, stop a competitor cutting your grass in relation to the specific sponsorship at hand.

There are many other issues to consider in sponsorship agreements. Stayed tuned for part two of this blog which will cover off issues including :

What is the duration of the sponsorship?

What are the performance criteria if any?

What are the exit mechanisms?

What is the territory? (by geography and type of media)

What is the fee structure?

What if it all goes wrong?

Tune in tomorrow…

Malcolm McBratney






Crowdfunding, a cool gadget, the Firebiner and a little bit of law…

Today as this this a legal and lifestyle blog, I have managed to combine the two into the one blog.


I recently came across and then supported via Kickstarter a nifty little gadget called the Firebiner, find it here – .

Malcolm McBratney LegalLifestyle Blog Firebiner.jpg

It has quite a few useful everyday items on what can basically be a handy everyday keyring.

Malcolm McBratney Legal Lifestyle Blog Firebiner 2.png

What is crowdfunding?

I’m preaching to the converted a little here, however this is a handy excuse to talk a little about crowdfunding. As many of you will know already, crowdfunding has seen explosive growth over the last few years to fund many and varied products and projects. Some succeed in raising the required money, some do not. Some get the money but then fail in the market. Others are runaway successes.

Australian examples – Satellite Reign and Pop-Up Movie

A couple of Australian linked campaigns I personally know which illustrate some other types of funding campaigns and how far they can go include :

Satellite Reign – a campaign by Australian game developers, 5 Lives Studios, to create a sequel to a very popular computer game from the 90s  raised a huge £461,333 from 15,029 backers to help bring this project to life –


With appropriate disclaimers that this one was by my brother, Stuart McBratney, just over $10,000 raised via Pozible to fun a low budget feature film –


There are many issues to consider when setting up a crowdfunding campaign and also some issues to consider when donating to one.

Legal issues around crowdfunding

The legal rules around crowdfunding differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Australia, it is permissible to set up a true crowdfunding campaign in the sense of donations in return for product or service, but you have to be very careful to make sure you do not stray into capital raising territory, regulated by the Corporations Act.

I won’t give a capital raising lecture here today, but in a nutshell, under Australian law currently you cannot give equity in the business unless you abide by the rules/exceptions under the Corporations Act. If you are doing anything other than having people donate in return for being provided with the product or service, you should consider your obligations under the Corporations Act and preferably seek legal advice from someone knowledgeable in the area.

If blog readers are interested in a Capital Raising/Corporations Act 101 from me, please comment below and I will post one for you!

Australian Federal Government’s proposed crowdfunding laws now lapsed

The Federal Government did have legislation to facilitate crowdfunding on its books prior to the most recent election :;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fbillhome%2Fr5588%22

The bill however lapsed with the double dissolution. We will need to watch this space to see if it is introduced once the various other high profile issues taking up the parliament’s attention are dealt with.


House of Representatives
Introduced and read a first time 03 Dec 2015
Second reading moved 03 Dec 2015
Second reading debate 10 Feb 2016
Second reading agreed to 10 Feb 2016
Third reading agreed to 10 Feb 2016
Introduced and read a first time 22 Feb 2016
Second reading moved 22 Feb 2016
Lapsed at prorogation 17 Apr 2016
Consideration of House of Reps message

  • Details: In response to a request from the House, the Senate agreed to resume consideration of the bill
02 May 2016
Lapsed at dissolution 09 May 2016

What about contract law?

Putting aside corporations law compliance, those setting up a crowdfunding campaign should remember that they are still putting in place a contract between themselves and the funders for the sale of a good or service. As a result, all of the usual contract law and liability issues arise. These include :

  • certainty as to what is being delivered;
  • certainty around timing;
  • terms and conditions of sale;
  • product liability and insurance;
  • returns policies;
  • implied terms under consumer and sale of goods laws (e.g. fitness for purpose, merchantable quality etc)

Crowdfunders should make sure these issues are clearly spelt out in their online material. Similarly, those looking to support a campaign should read this material carefully to ensure they understand what they are signing up to.

The legal issues of running a business of course also should be covered off up front- a suitable corporate structure, written contracts with employees and contractors, confidentiality, IP protection, manufacturing and services agreements with suppliers and the list goes on.

Crowdfunding is here to stay. The donation model both here in Australia and overseas is working well; however I personally am hopeful that we will see the Australian legislation find its way back to parliament again soon, accepting that while it doesn’t go as far as may wish, every little bit helps.

Lastly, go get yourself a Firebinder and share with your contacts. Sharing links here :

Facebook Share:


Tumbler Share:

Malcolm McBratney









Ever wondered why the media (usually!) pixelates the face of accused murderers? I’m not sure The Courier Mail does…

I picked up Saturday’s Courier Mail (our one and only physical local paper here in Brisbane (sorry Brisbane News online only edition) at a coffee shop yesterday (I refuse to pay actual money for it) to be greeted by this front page :


Now clearly, the Courier Mail didn’t leave large white spaces on their front page, that is me deleting the aspects of the story that are in my opinion potentially prejudicial and I didn’t want to republish here and make the same mistake.

Why not republish Malcolm, this is just a blog?

Social media is generally governed by the same restrictions on publication that govern the mainstream media. See this example where the womens’ lifestyle site, Mumamia, found itself in trouble for potentially prejudicial commentary during the trial of now convicted child sex offender, Hey Dad!’s Robert Hughes. .

Media Watch also commented on how these laws apply when the internet and google allow all of us to find images and facts that the mainstream media don’t publish :

My two cents here is that just because another media outlet, website or other service publishes something, that doesn’t excuse you from doing the same thing. Two wrongs don’t make a right and you as publisher, whether mainstream media outlet, website or blogger are still liable.

Why does the media sometimes pixelate faces?

Many of us would have seen the pixelation of the face of defendants accused of serious crimes such as murder. In particular it is in my opinion still quite clear under Australian law that in a murder trial the identity of the murderer is always an issue and as such the face or other identifying features (e.g. a large tattoo or a missing arm) should not be published.

The law has been clear on this point ever since Time was handed a $200,000 fine way back in 1995 for contempt of court by publishing the face of backpacker murderer, Ivan Milat, while he was still on trial. How does this front page really differ from the Courier Mail one?


The idea is that if a witness to the crime or events leading up to or after it sees the face or other identifying feature of the defendant in the media, that could cloud their recollection of the true facts. For example, having seen the face of the defendant on the front page of the Courier Mail, a witness might respond to a question from the prosecutor such as “Is this the man you saw walking along the street?” with “Yes, it most certainly is.“, when in fact they are recalling the face from the newspaper, not the actual sighting.

How can The Courier Mail show the defendant’s face?

Having acted in media law for over 20 years, this is one of those rules that is Media Law 101. However it seems the Courier Mail doesn’t think the law applies to them. Some other media outlets also seem to think the same thing. Publications such as this run the risk of prejudicing the trial and can be grounds for the trial to be aborted.

Identity is always an issue in a murder trial and publication of the defendant’s face in such a trial is in my opinion in contempt of court.  It is in my view, irresponsible journalism.

What else is wrong with the Courier Mail story?

But the buck doesn’t stop there as you will see from the other pixelated aspects of the story. I have erred on the side of caution (and my limited picture editing abilities) and blocked out passages that also contain what in my view are contemptuous statements. I won’t say what they are here as to do so would be to republish the offending statements, but suffice it to say the media (and all of us in these days of social media) need to be careful about publishing evidence, statements or other facts that a jury may or may not hear in the trial.

Examples include aspects of evidence, prior convictions,  other separate charges, some background facts and also comments or statements that infer the guilt or otherwise of the defendant.

What should the media do and what should happen here?

The Tia Palmer story is a very sad one and this blog article in no way is intended to take away from that. To ensure justice is done and trials are not aborted it is vitally important that the media plays by the rules. This is not the first instance by the Courier Mail of playing loose with the law in order to sell a few more papers ( and it is time they in particular, but other media outlets also lifted their game.

What should happen here apart from the Curious Mail lifting their game? Yvette D’Ath, as Queensland’s Attorney General, I’m looking at you.

Malcolm McBratney




Rods, Chains and Scruples, more on the imperial measurement system…

After yesterday’s post ( and Greg Cambrell’s comments containing a list of imperial measures (thanks Greg!), I have had quite a few queries on imperial measurements.

Greg has kindly sent me a scan from the back of his school exercise book from the 1950s :


Who knew there were so many types of measures and weights? I’d heard of inches, rods, roods and chains before, along with ounces and pounds, but I wonder how many of us knew there were 3 Scruples to a Dram and 8 Drams to an Ounce?

Of course the imperial system (to a metric mind like my own at least) seems as crazy as the English language must seem to a native speaker of the latin derived languages such as French, Spanish, Italian or others. Doing some further research, I have discovered this is also somewhat a hot topic in some circles.

By way of introduction, here is a history of measurement care of Wikipedia :

and Encyclopaedia Brittanica :


and here is a fiery debate on imperial versus metric!

Lastly, whenever you are next faced with an imperial to metric conversion or vice versa, here is a handy calculator (noting you can usually just type the conversion you want into Google and it will do it for you on the spot) :

So next time you are at the shops, have some fun and ask for 2 scruples of cumin, a flemish ell of fabric, 3 gills of lemonade and ask the real estate agent how many poles the block of land has? (he or she will then likely start looking at the fence posts).

Have fun!

Malcolm McBratney

A legal trip back in time care of the Land Titles Office…


I was cleaning out some boxes yesterday and stumbled across some old certificates of title for my previous house at 383 Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill. It got me thinking, while our online world certainly makes things quicker and more accessible these days, we certainly have lost something when you look at this lovely certificate of title, written in a lovely longhand cursive style and so full of history too.

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 8.58.37 AM 2.png

These old titles office documents are very rich in history. From this one, we can see than one Thomas Woodcock obtained the title to the land on which my old house stands in 1874 from Patrick Scanlan. An earlier certificate of title shows that Patrick Scanlan, who sold the house to Thomas Woodcock, was one of Brisbane’s early property developers, being granted in the 1860s what we would now basically call “the suburb of Spring Hill“, which he then set about subdividing.

Some googling then finds that Thomas Woodcock was a tailor in Queen Street :





I founds this advertisement using Trove Trove from the National Library of Australia is a wonderful resource if you are doing historical research.

The Brisbane postal directory from 1874 also shows that Thomas Woodcock lived between William Street (now Kinross Street) and Park Street on Gregory Terrace in the days before house numbers :


The complete 1874 Postal Directory here (is your house there Brisbane residents?) :

So, what might have been a boring legal document, in fact is the starting point for an interesting and informative journey back in time. From something like this in 1874 (not the original house at 383 Gregory Terrace, but a likely similar 1860s/70s house still standing on Gregory Terrace) :


to the current house at 383 Gregory Terrace today (built in 1914) :


Happy historical hunting!

Malcolm McBratney