Be careful when you use the word ANZAC

Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018

On this eve of Anzac Day, we thought it was appropriate to look at the word ANZAC and the legal implications of using the word when naming a product, event or even your boat.

A quick history lesson

We all get taught about the importance and history of the Anzac landing on the shores of Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.  It is widely regarded as the day the Anzacs demonstrated principles of courage, determination and mateship.  It is often the starting point in most Australian classrooms when discussing World War I.  What is not often talked about is the phenomenon happening back home at the same time.

Not long after the Gallipoli landing, and increasingly into the eight-month campaign, many Australians wanted to name their houses and boats ‘Anzac’ as a way of commemorating a loved one lost in WWI.  Much less honourably, many Australians began attempting to trademark the word for commercial products and business.


The Australian Government at the time feared that the word ‘Anzac’ would lose all meaning if it were not protected, and so, as early as 1 July 1916, it became an offence to use the word Anzac in trade or business.

Today, Protection of Word ‘Anzac’ Regulations 1921 (Cth) still provides that to use the word ‘Anzac’ (or any word resembling the word ‘Anzac’) in an official or corporate manner, you must get permission from the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

This is similarly protected in New Zealand by Flags, Emblems and Name Protection Act 1981.

So I can’t use the word Anzac at all?

There are a few instances where this regulation does not apply.  Namely:

  1. When using the words ‘Anzac Day’ in connection with events or entertainment held on 25 April itself, or on consecutive days including April 25th;
  2. When naming a street, road or park containing or near a First or Second World Memorial;
  3. When naming a memorial;
  4. When naming a child or pet;
  5. When producing a book or poem, so long as the writer is not a professional, and the content is historical in nature; and
  6. When the word is used outside of Australia, provided it is not for content with in Australia.

Outside of these circumstances, you must apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs for use of the word.

But, what about things like the humble Anzac biscuit?

The baking of Anzac biscuits is the only purely commercial use of the word “Anzac’ that the Minister for Veterans Affairs is likely to approve.  However, even this is not without its conditions.  If you are going to name something an ‘Anzac Biscuit’ it must be made in accordance with the traditional recipe and shape, and it must be named Anzac Biscuit or Anzac Slice – not Anzac Cookie.  

What happens if you break these regulations?

The government has taken misuse of the word ‘Anzac’ pretty seriously – an individual can be fined up to $10,200 and a corporation can be fined up to $51,000 fine.  There is also a risk of 12 months’ imprisonment.

There have been five major illegal uses of the word Anzac in the 100-year history since:

  1. In 1916, James Armstrong attracted the attention of the Department of Veteran Affairs for his ‘Anzac Photography Studio’.
  1. Also in 1916, Frederick Rogers gained the same attention for his ‘Anzac Café’.
  1. In 1935, despite his fame, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith got himself in trouble for calling his plane ‘Anzac’.
  1. In 2015 Woolworths infamously gained media attention for their ‘Fresh in our Memories’ Campaign.
  1. Finally, again in 2015, Zoo Weekly’s ‘Anzac Centenary’ edition was found to be outside the regulation.

Considering the above points regarding Anzac Day is a timely reminder for business owners in particular to ensure that their use of a particular word or name for commercial purposes does not infringe any rules or registered trademarks.

Contact the team at Shire Legal if you have any questions about trademarks.

[The above banner photo is of our principal's grandfather, Joffre Bush, who served in Papua New Guinea in World War II]

Back to Blog
Share on:


"I leave everything to my children" - does this include adopted children? | 16.04.2018

CASE UPDATE Last week, the New South Wales Supreme Court considered the issue whether the words "my children", when used in the context of the dec...

Read More


Know your rights as a beneficiary | 05.04.2018

If you are the beneficiary of a Will it is important to know what your rights are in regards to obtaining and protecting your entitlement. Right to Infor...

Read More


Sham contracting - are you a contractor or an employee? | 23.03.2018

There are significant financial and managerial benefits for businesses relying on a workforce which consists of independent contractors (who can be engaged as...

Read More