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).