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Monday, August 8, 2022

PROBE: Mayor’s squabbles over trade marks

A Melbourne suburban Mayor, Cr Lina Messina, is embroiled in a squabble over the trade mark of ‘Feminae’.
The trade mark and the business name of ‘Feminae’ is registered to the Darebin Mayor, Cr Messina at a Reservoir address.
Adele Barbaro, as Trustee for the Barbaro IP Trust, on October 1 last year, lodged opposition with IP Australia over Cr Messina’s trade mark registration of ‘Feminae’.
The Barbaro interests operate the Feminae Beverage Co., selling wines and spirits. They filed their trade mark application on August 21, 2020.
Cr Messina filed her trade mark applications on March 10 and July 26, 2021.
The Barbaro interests filed a further trade mark application, four days later, on July 30, 2021.
Cr Messina’s trade mark was originally accepted by IP Australia on August 11 last year, but the Barbaro interests contested the approval on October 1, seven weeks later.
There is no mention of the ‘Feminae’ entity in Cr Messina’s Darebin Council ‘Biannual Personal Interest Returns’, declared last September.
Cr Messina offered a ‘nil’ answer to the return’s questions about consultancies, contracts or agencies.
As at the September 2021 return, Cr Messina said she had ‘nil’ interest or beneficial interest in land.
The Australian Business Number Register last week listed two business registrations in Cr Messina’s name: ‘Feminae’ and ‘Two Mamma Ducks’. According to Australian Securities and Investments Commission records, Cr Messina also has two companies.
They are Ms Messina Pty Ltd and Messina Ink Pty Ltd, registered as of last week, at Unit 1, 129 Darebin Blvd, Reservoir. It is unclear whether Cr Messina still lives at that address.
ASIC records show that Cr Messina owns 100 $1 paid-up shares in each of the two companies.
Cr Messina offered a ‘nil’ answer in her September 2021 declaration about “shares you own or have a beneficial interest in”.
Company records indicate that Cr Messina took ownership the shares in Messina Ink Pty Ltd on January 30, 2020, and in Ms Messina Pty Ltd on March 3, 2021.
Cr Messina became Mayor of the City of Darebin on November 23, 2020.
Asked about “companies which you solely or jointly with family members hold a controlling interest”, Cr Messina answered ‘Nil’.
Cr Messina declared that she had no personal debt.
Cr Messina highlighted her Feminae business interests in her candidate’s statement for Football Victoria last year.
She described herself at the Football Victoria website as “Founder, Director CEO of Feminae”.
“As the Founder of Feminae and a community leader, I understand the importance of female empowerment and social change,” Cr Messina said.
‘Feminae’ is listed on Facebook as a “charity organisation”.
This newspaper was unable to find ‘Feminae’ listed at the Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission website.
The ‘Feminae’ Facebook page lists a website – wearefeminae.com.au – but this only leads to a blank website ‘test pattern’ operated by Go Daddy.
Cr Messina’s application to use the ‘Feminae’ trade mark covered a wide variety of good and services.
These included cosmetic goods for care of the skin, ballet shoes; leather shoes; shoes; chocolate; visual event planners; arranging and conducting promotional and marketing events; promotion of entertainment events; ans conducting of cultural events; conducting of educational events; and arranging of sporting events.
Cr Messina was invited to make comment on the matters raised in this report:
“As Mayor of the City of Darebin for a second term and Councillor for more than five years, I take my role as a representative of the community very seriously.
I acknowledge there were some unintended omissions in my returns, including my participation on the Reservoir Revitalisation Board, and these were adjusted as soon as I became aware.
“In the spirit of good governance and transparency, I notified Local Government Victoria and Local Government Inspectorate upon these being rectified.”

  • Ash Long