Nintendo Switch being played

Score big with Nintendo get ready for the trademarked NSW on your Switch

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. Nintendo is attempting to trademark the abbreviation “NSW” for the Nintendo Switch in Europe.
  2. The trademark application raises questions about the legal protection of Australian state abbreviations, as “NSW” is shorthand for New South Wales.
  3. The trademark could impact the use of “NSW” by other organisations and businesses, particularly in sporting goods, but the likelihood of legal action is low.

Full Article

Nintendo, the renowned creator of iconic games such as Mario and Zelda, has recently submitted a trademark application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office to secure the three-letter abbreviation ‘NSW’ in association with their console, the Nintendo Switch. While the abbreviation ‘NSW’ has found some favour among users of this gaming system, its usage remains relatively limited compared to alternatives like ‘Switch’ or ‘NS’. Interestingly, this move brings about legal intrigue and amusement due to the subtle connotations with Australia’s New South Wales, where no explicit protection currently exists for the abbreviation. Registering the device in the United States might have posed brand recognition challenges, given the country’s global prominence. However, NSW’s lesser fame beyond Australian borders makes registering without much difficulty legally easier.

Judy Zhu, a technology lawyer at Eaglegate Lawyers in Brisbane, highlights the ambiguity surrounding the legal protection of Australian state abbreviations. Although trademarking ‘NSW’ would not necessarily eliminate its current usage, Nintendo may opt to register this mark across Europe and America. They could, however, face potential complications if their trademark extends to sporting goods. While the government has legal options in such a conflict, the likelihood of resorting to these measures is low. Nevertheless, vigilance remains essential in today’s rapidly changing world, as one never knows what the future might hold.

Zhu notes that if Nintendo, or any other entity, successfully secures trademark protection for ‘NSW’ about the goods covered by the mark, they may be able to prevent traders from employing those letters in a similar trademark. This is because the use of ‘NSW’ could lead customers to assume that these products originated from New South Wales mistakenly. The potential conflict has elicited amusement and humour from the public, as demonstrated by social media users, rather than a serious concern. For instance, users find humour in the unlikely event of a conflict between game developers like Nintendo and sports organisations such as the New South Wales Rugby League, which have registered trademarks containing ‘NSW RL’. Ultimately, however, the low likelihood of either organisation pursuing legal action against the other over their respective marks suggests that a resolution will likely be reached amicably without court intervention or litigation.

As Bruce Wayne excitedly tweets about playing the new South Wales State of Origin game, it is important to remember that the abbreviation ‘NSW’ may not be automatically associated with this state outside of Australia. Nintendo’s legal team may have known these implications before filing for their rights. Still, one cannot help but wonder if developers like Paradox Interactive or might also pursue recognition from other states. As we all await further developments, only time will reveal the true extent of the influence and the territories that may receive newfound notoriety across gaming platforms worldwide.

In summary, Nintendo has recently sought to trademark the abbreviation “NSW” for their popular gaming console, the Nintendo Switch, in Europe. This move has raised questions regarding the legal protection of Australian state abbreviations, as ‘NSW’ is an acronym commonly used to denote New South Wales. This development has implications for how other organisations using such acronyms or shorthand to refer to geographical locations and regions around Australia might be affected, particularly those outside Australia who may be unfamiliar with local vernacular conventions. While the use of “NSW” by other businesses and organisations, specifically in sporting goods, could be impacted by this trademark registration, legal action