Case Update

Battle of the Satay Celup Restaurants


Ban Lee Siang restaurants – used with permission of sixthseal.com

Ban Lee Siang is a well known satay celup restaurant in Melaka. It consists of two adjoining shops operated by two different owners who are brothers. The shop was started by their other brother in 1987.

Although both restaurants are named “Ban Lee Siang”, they are both known as Restoran Makanan and Minuman Ban Lee Siang and Restoran Ban Lee Siang. The former was taken over by the Plaintiff in 1997 and the latter was started by the Defendant in 2004.

In 2012, the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Defendant over the use of the name Ban Lee Siang. The Plaintiff alleged that he is the exclusive and registered proprietor whereas the Defendant is merely a licensee. The Plaintiff terminated the licence via a letter.


The Plaintiff’s registered trade mark

However, the Defendant alleged that he is a joint proprietor of the trade mark as he had purchased the business jointly with the Plaintiff and their mother.

The High Court held that:-

1. Based on the evidence provided, the trade mark BAN LEE SIANG was not only sold to the Plaintiff but also to the Defendant and their mother (paragraph 15);
2. The Defendant is a honest concurrent user (pursuant to s. 40(c) of the Trade Marks Act 1976 (TMA)) but also entitled to file an application under s. 20 of the TMA to be a joint proprietor (paragraph 16); and
3. Since the Plaintiff did not object to the use of the trade mark from the date of establishment of the Defendant’s restaurant until the date of the letter terminating the alleged licence, this shows that the Plaintiff had indeed allowed the use of the trade mark. Thus, following s. 40(c) and (dd) of the TMA, there is no trade mark infringement (paragraph 17).

Download: Chua Cheng Kiat b/s Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Ban Lee Siang v Chua Cheng Ho b/s Restoran Ban Lee Siang

Can a franchise agreement be executed before the registration of the franchise in Malaysia?

In a recent High Court case, the Court held that a licence agreement can qualify as a franchise agreement and a licensor cannot offer to sell or provide a franchise until his franchise is registered in Malaysia.

Munafya Sdn Bhd v Profquaz Sdn Bhd

The Defendant operates an Islamic education system or syllabus for preschool children under the name Children Islamic Center (CIC). CIC is a franchise registered with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism (“MDTCC”) and also with the Ministry of Education (“MoE”) (collectively referred as the “Ministries”).

Before the said registrations with Ministries, the Defendant entered into a licence agreement granting the Plaintiff the right to operate the CIC.

After the necessary preparation was done, the Plaintiff discovered that CIC was not registered with the Private Education Division of the MoE. The Plaintiff demand proof of registration but the Defendant failed to do so. However, the Defendant subsequently took steps to register CIC with the Ministries. Before the grant of the registrations, the Plaintiff terminated the agreement and demanded for, among others, a refund of RM35,000.

In allowing the Plaintiff’s claim, the High Court held that, among others:-

1. Notwithstanding that the agreement is in essence a licence agreement and the word “franchise” is not pleaded, the Malaysian Franchise Act 1998 is applicable. Under s. 6(1) of the said act, a franchisor shall register his franchise with the Franchise Registrar before he can make an offer to sell the franchise to any person.

2. In view that the Defendant had failed to register its CIC franchise with the Ministries before the signing of the licence agreement, the Defendant cannot offer or give the CIC licence to the Plaintiff. Therefore, the Plaintiff’s termination is not premature.

The judgement can be downloaded by clicking on the “Pay with a Tweet or Facebook” button below.

Symphony Light & Sounds Services Sdn Bhd & Anor v Irwan Shah Bin Abdullah @ D.J Dave & Ors

Kuala Lumpur High Court Suit No.: S-22-1010-2007

Plaintiffs initiated an action against Defendants for allegedly misappropriating their copyright by way of fraud and deception. The subject matters in dispute are proposals entitled “Malaysia’s 50 years an illuminating Journey”. The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants had secretly sent the subject matter to the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage.

Plaintiff claims that their concept of “large format lightings, projections and special effects” for the purpose of outdoor audio visual performance is artistic works pursuant to the Malaysian Copyright Act 1987.

The High Court held that Plaintiffs failed to show evidence that such concept is their creation and it is original.

Case dismissed with costs to be taxed.

Download: [Judgement]

Shaifubahrim Bin Mohd (as President and Council Member of Persatuan Industri Komputer dan Multimedia Malaysia (PIKOM) and representing all members of PIKOM) v EM Exhibitions (M) Sdn Bhd & Anor

Kuala Lumpur High Court Suit No: D5 – 22IP – 76 – 2010

Plaintiff is the owner of registered trade mark “PC Fair”. The Defendants in this case had used the trade mark “PC Expo” for their computer exhibition.

Plaintiff initiated an action against the Defendants for trade mark infringement, passing off and breach of confidence.

The High Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s action for trade mark infringement and passing off but allowed the action for breach of confidence.

Download: [Judgement]

Kuang Pei San Food Producs Public Company Limited v Wes Marketing Co Sdn Bhd (No 2)

Sabah and Sarawak High Court Suit No. S22-231-2009-III

Trade mark infringement, passing off and copyright infringement of the brand SMILING FISH. Plaintiff succeeded in trade mark and copyright infringement but not passing off due to failure to prove damage.

Judgement: [Download]

B.Braun Melsungen AG & Anor v Meds Sdn Bhd & Ors

Kuala Lumpur High Court Suit No. D – 22IP – 23 – 2011

Patent infringement – interlocutory injunction – whether claim of invalidation is a serious issue to be tried – whether balance of convenience lies on the Plaintiff due to damage to goodwill and reputation – whether the Defendants, being new in the market and having a small market share, should be restrained.

Download: [Judgement]

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