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Levi Hawken facing competition over 'nek minnit'

Published: 10:52AM Wednesday March 07, 2012 Source: ONE News

When Levi Hawken coined "nek minnit" on a Youtube video he never imagined he would have competition to the rights of the phrase.

A story on TVNZ's Fair Go tonight will investigate how a distillery in Auckland has applied to trademark nek minnit, to the surprise of Hawken.

Despite the skateboarder using the phrase in a few profitable instances, including Food in a Nek Minnit, it has been others who have cashed in on Hawken's work, featuring on t-shirts and inspiring a number of songs.

The New Zealand Drug Foundation used the saying, tweeting: "In 2009 we conducted research into NZ drug driving habits, nek minnit we kicked off our driving high info project."

In last year's election, the Conservative Party used the phrase on its billboards, saying "Nek minnit, Conservatives".

Hawken never trademarked the phrase and was oblivious that a company had requested the rights to it.

TVNZ reporter Pete Cronshaw told TV ONE's Breakfast this morning that the Fair Trading Act could save Hawken from losing the rights to his phrase if there is a public perception that he should profit from it.

"If the public believe that, and companies aren't giving him a slice of the pie, then the public are being misled and he has a claim there."

The professional skateboarder shot to fame in August last year with the success of his nine second Youtube video, with Hawken saying "left my scooter outside the dairy. Nek Minnit".

The phrase became one of the most searched terms on Google by New Zealanders in 2011 and the video has had close to 2.5 million views.