reptile party bookingSnakebusters® - It's official! - We really are Australia's best reptiles®.

So how did Snakebusters get the legally enforceable exclusive right to call themselves Australia’s best reptiles®?

To be the best is what many companies strive for.

Raymond Hoser and Snakebusters® have strived for perfection for years in terms of their hands on reptile shows, live reptiles, reptile education, school incursions, publications, kids parties in Melbourne, reptile surveys, TV and more.

Furthermore over the last 30 years, Hoser and the Snakebusters business names, have become recognised by peers and independent testers as the best in the reptile business.

However because to call oneself “the best” is potentially a subjective term and more-so one that other advertisers may want to use to describe their services in a marketing term called “puffery”, the Australian trade marks office only rarely allows the word “best” to appear in a trademark.

When it is seen in a trademark, the word “best” is usually a part of a logo which means other traders in the same business can use the word “best” to describe themselves, so long as the logo (or anything like it) is not used.

However for the word “best” to appear in a “words only” trademark, is virtually unheard of.

You see to be allowed to own the exclusive rights to declare yourself the “best” in your industry would require general industry-wide recognition your company is the best, which is something few other companies would be likely to state of their competitors.

Furthermore, a company would have to be measureably better than all their competitors.

However in 2008, both sets of circumstances combined to enable Snakebusters to be able to convince the trademarks office that Snakebusters were the best in the live reptile shows business and that as a result, Snakebusters should have a legally enforceable right to make this exclusive claim, and stop imitators from using the word “best” to describe themselves.

As a result, Snakebusters now own the “Australia’s best reptiles” “words only” trademark, meaning an effective exclusive right over the word “best” to describe their services in all things reptile and wildlife.  That’s because anything deceptively similar to a trademark cannot be used by another trader, meaning that use of the word “best” in connection with anything reptile or wildlife would be too close to the Snakebusters trademark.

The Snakebusters trademark is a wide “claim” including a huge array of fields and services, such as snake handling courses, online reptile information, Melbourne reptile parties, live snake shows, wildlife displays and so on.

As to how Snakebusters came to satisfy all criteria to be found the “best” the summary is as follows.

In 2006-2008, a number of less experienced reptile and wildlife display companies successfully lobbied the Victorian State wildlife authority, (calling themselevs DSE) to impose regulations on Snakebusters, that were to be unique to Snakebusters.

The justification was that Snakebusters were too good and too successful for their competitors who were at the time struggling to get customers.  So DSE and all other better-known wildlife demonstrators went to VCAT (a government tribunal) and argued that Snakebusters were the best by far and had to be legally forced to lower their standards to allow others to compete.  It was argued that the “hands on reptiles” shows of Snakebusters should be stopped or curtailed and that the surgically devenomized snakes (called venomoids) used by Snakebusters should also be banned as it gave Snakebusters safety and animal welfare advantages that competitors like “Zoos Victoria” didn’t have.

(Snakebusters argued that other traders should raise their standards instead, but the DSE said that would be “too hard”).

The sworn affidavits by DSE and the Snakebusters business rivals, VCAT transcripts and VCAT judgement were enough to prove to the trademarks office that Snakebusters was unanimously regarded as being the best in their business by everyone in the industry.

Also among the documents was the quantifiable proof of why Snakebusters was the best in their business. 

The three key elements were,

1/ Most expertise,

2/ The only safe venomous snake show in Melbourne and Australia (because of the devenomized snakes) and

3/ Australia’s only “hands on reptiles” shows, which gave superior educational outcomes.

As a result, Snakebusters was able to register the trademark “Australia’s best reptiles” giving the company a legally enforceable right to stop imitators misusing the trademark or anything similar to falsely claim they were the best in the industry.

Furthermore, because DSE, Zoos Victoria and all other demonstrators made statements saying that they didn’t they do hands on with wildlife, they didn’t want to do hands on with wildlife and that they were all vehemently opposed to hands on with reptiles and wildlife, Snakebusters were allowed to register exclusive rights to the words hands on in connection with reptile and wildlife displays.

Getting close to a reptile or “patting” a snake’s tail does not count as “hands on” and that’s why Snakebusters now enforce trademark rights to stop imitators misusing this other critically important trademark.

Snakebusters have also got alternative trademarks that describe much the same, in the form of “hold the animals” and “handle the animals”, giving the company exlsuive rights over the phrases and anything similar.

While the trademarks, Australia’s best reptiles and the others all enhance the market position and marketability of Snakebusters, it is more important that consumers are not duped by imitators who market their services in an illegal manner of “Passing off” as Snakebusters.

That’s also illegal under the Federal Trade Practices Act.

There’s nothing worse than a situation where a school teacher may book what they think is a “hands on reptiles” incursion only to find an imitator who knows little and allows at best a fleeting touch of a reptile by the kids.

Hence Snakebusters enforce their trademark rights diligently.

Yes, there are some people (including Zoos Victoria), who demonize snakes and exaggerate the alleged risks, even of harmless snakes (yes, the Zoos Victoria vet surgeon even claimed in a sworn statement that non-venomous snakes were dangerous) and who prefer to see snakes away from people or otherwise dead. 

Noting that these people have made sworn statements to this effect at VCAT and elsewhere, we believe that they should be honest in their advertising and say what they believe up front and not after they’ve taken a person’s money.

Snakebusters believe that risks from snakes and other reptiles are grosly exaggerated.  We say snakes are unjustly demonized on TV and elsewhere and we seek to set the ledger straight with our hands on shows, regarded by teachers from Australia’s best schools as being the best in Australia.

If that’s what people want, then they can book their shows with Snakebusters.

If people instead want a “hands off” reptile show, that demonizes snakes and that’s definitely not regarded as the best by those who know, then there are myriad other “second best” companies to choose from.

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