Netflix reality series ‘Byron Baes’ trademark woes

The Sydney Morning Herald reports..

Global streaming service Netflix’s first Australian reality series Byron Baes has hit another snag after a Bondi-based children’s business opposed a trademark application related to the show.

Nearly five months after Netflix requested use of the words ‘Byron Baes’ for entertainment services, Teena Zerefos Waldron, the owner of children’s store Bondi Beach Baby, has filed an application opposing the trademark. The reason for the opposition to the trademark is unclear, but Ms Waldron does sell ‘Bae Bibs’ for babies.

Netflix’s plans hit opposition from locals wishing to protect Byron’s social fabric, and from its traditional owners.
Netflix’s plans hit opposition from locals wishing to protect Byron’s social fabric, and from its traditional owners.

Opposition to trademark applications is not unusual. And even if Netflix was not successful with its application it would not threaten it ability to air the series, only its ability to sell branded merchandise.

Nevertheless, the opposition is the latest in a series of obstacles Netflix has faced since it attempted to get the program to air.

Announced in April, Byron Baes is the first locally-commissioned reality series for Netflix in Australia and will be about the lives of social media “influencers” that live in Byron Bay and the surrounding towns. It will run over eight episodes and is produced by Eureka Productions.

The commission was supposed to signal the US$228.5 billion ($US310.5 billion) service’s intent to invest in Australian content. But the plans were almost immediately rejected by locals. Bryon Bay retailers such as Arnhem Clothing, Spell and Zulu and Zephyr, and cafes and restaurants such as The Roadhouse, Bayleaf Cafe and The Byron Bay General Store were among the businesses that rejected filming on their premises in an attempt to block or stall production.

Concerns have been raised on a number of grounds including that the production has not followed best practice guidelines by failing to consult with traditional owners (Netflix says that Screen Australia protocols dictate this is necessary only when Indigenous people, practices or sacred sites might be filmed); that the show would present an unrealistic picture of a community struggling with a number of serious social issues; and that the attention generated by a program made for Netflix’s 200 million subscribers worldwide would add immeasurably to the pressures on the town’s already stretched infrastructure and fragile environment.